Gadhafi regime and rebels accused of war crimes | News | DW | 02.03.2012
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Gadhafi regime and rebels accused of war crimes

A UN report has pointed the finger at forces loyal to the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as well as opposition rebels. It has accused both sides of committing war crimes during last year's revolution.

A United Nations commission investigating alleged war crimes and human rights violations during Libya's civil war has pointed the finger at both sides.

The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya found that forces loyal to the country's long-time strongman Moammar Gadhafi had committed numerous crimes during the 2011 conflict, including sustained shelling and indiscriminate attacks on populated areas across the country.

A draft copy of the commission's second report, which was obtained by news agencies, says that rebel forces adopted similar tactics soon after the fighting broke out. The commission found evidence that the rebels subjected centers known to be loyal to the regime, such as Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, to particularly brutal attacks.

"The scale of the destruction [in Sirte] and the nature of the weaponry employed indicated that the attacks were indiscriminate," the report said.

The commission also expressed concern about what it said was the failure of Libya's current government, the National Transitional Council, to hold former rebels to account for crimes allegedly committed during the conflict.

"Libyan authorities can break with the Gadhafi legacy by enforcing the law equally, investigating all abuses - irrespective of the perpetrator," the report said.

The report said the commission had been unable to determine the cause of Gadhafi's death, or that of his son Mustassim, who were both captured by rebels on October 20 and died in their custody shortly afterwards. It said Libyan authorities had declined to give it access to the late leader's autopsy report and that it had been unable to obtain any account of his son's death. The circumstances of their deaths have been a bone of contention.

NATO efforts to avoid civilian casualties

The commission also found that NATO air strikes were responsible for the deaths of some 60 civilians, with a similar number injured, but it said the Western military alliance had "conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties."

The report accuses Gadhafi's regime of trying to inflate the number of civilian casualties caused by NATO strikes for its own purposes.

"A number of allegations against NATO investigated by the commission were either exaggerated or a deliberate attempt at misinformation," the report said.

The commission was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in February of last year to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya.

pfd/ccp (AFP, dpa)