Moussa Koussa was born on 23 March 1949 in Tripoli, and attended Michigan State University in the U.S., earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1978. He was a security specialist for Libyan embassies across Europe before being appointed as Colonel Gaddafi’s de facto ambassador to London in 1979. He was expelled from the U.K. in 1980 after having advocated the killing of Libyan dissidents in Britain and having expressed admiration for IRA militants.
He headed the Libyan intelligence agency from 1994 to March 2009. Next to that, he served in the Libyan government as Minister of Foreign Affairs until his resignation on 30 March 2011. He was considered until that moment as one of the country’s most powerful figures and is consequently believed to be implicated in the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the repression of the civil protests and the non-international armed conflict that followed, between 15 February and 30 March 2011.
On 15 February 2011, there began a series of protests and confrontations in Libya that led to a large popular uprising. Within a week, it spread across the country, including its capital Tripoli. The Gaddafi Regime responded with a military crackdown on protestors and civilians, recruiting foreign mercenaries to supplement his forces as the Eastern part of the country was falling under control of the rebel forces and parts of the military defected.
By the end of February the rebels formed a government called the National Transitional Council based in Benghazi. According to the information of human rights groups, Gaddafi’s forces are responsible for alleged killings in Tripoli, where 228 or more people died in air strikes; in Benghazi where bombing also allegedly killed some 257 people; and in the towns of Misrata, Brega, Derna, Zenten and Ajdabiya where air strikes and attacks by security forces were allegedly responsible for at least 40 deaths.
On March 31, Moussa Koussa has fled from Tunisia to London where he is now detained by the British intelligence services. As the longtime Libyan intelligence chief and foreign Minister, Mr. Koussa is widely suspected to be implicated in acts of terrorism and murder over the last three decades, including the assassination of dissidents, the training of international terrorists and the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Scottish Prosecutors are also seeking to interview Mr. Koussa about the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people.
The U.N. Security Council, in a unanimous decision on 26 February 2011, instructed the International Criminal Court to investigate into the Libyan crisis that was described as “widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population [which] may amount to crimes against humanity”. The United Nations Security Council also passed a resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle and restricting their travel. The United States have dropped these sanctions against Moussa Koussa to encourage other defections.
The U.N. Security Council, in a unanimous decision 26 February 2011, instructed the International Criminal Court to investigate into the Libyan crisis that was described as “widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population [which] may amount to crimes against humanity”. The United Nations Security Council also passed a resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle and restricting their travel. The United States have dropped these sanctions against Moussa Koussa to encourage other defections.
ICC Prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo announced within a week that he had launched an investigation and had identified several suspects. He announced a probe into Gaddafi, three of his sons and key aides, including Moussa Koussa, for crimes against humanity arising from the crackdown on Libya’s popular revolt. He has also declared that he has enough proof that crimes against humanity have occurred in Libya.
Koussa left Britain on April 2011 following an EU decision to lift sanctions against him, meaning he no longer faced travel restrictions or an asset freeze. He was spotted by BBC reporters at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha. Because of the outrage between Libyan exiles and others who wanted Koussa to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court, late January 2012 he was relocated to a villa on the outskirts of Doha at the expenses of the Emirate.
ANTI-GADDAFI UPRISING AND CIVIL WAR
In 1969, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi got to power and ruled the country in an autocratic regime until 2011, when anti-authoritarian protests swept through the Arab world and his government was overturned. On 15 February 2011, Libyan human rights campaigners were arrested in Benghazi (Eastern Libya), sparking clashes with security forces, which rapidly spread throughout the country resulting in an uprising against the Gaddafi regime. Many were killed and injured as the government forcefully tried to suppress the revolt. In March 2011, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing air strikes to protect civilians, of which NATO assumed command. The main opposition group, the National Transitional Council (NTC), was recognized by some Western nations as the legitimate government of Libya. In August 2011, a major offensive by the rebels enabled them to enter the capital Tripoli. Gaddafi was forced to go into hiding, while his wife and three children fled to Algeria. On 20 October 2011, Colonel Gaddafi was captured and killed. The NTC took control of the country and in August 2012, handed over power to Libya’s newly elected parliament, the General National Congress. In November 2012, the new government was sworn in and started preparing the country for a new constitution and parliamentary elections.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMES
Many abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, such as targeting civilians or paramedics, torture and enforced disappearances, were reported during the uprising. On 25 February 2011, the Human Rights Council established the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya. The Commission reached the conclusion that international crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Libya by both the Government and the rebel forces.
The UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which sought the arrest warrant of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity. However, Libya’s cooperation with the ICC remains limited. In May 2012, Libya filed an admissibility challenge to the ICC’s jurisdiction requiring the pending cases to be transferred to its domestic judiciary. The ICC has yet to decide upon the referral of the cases to Libya.
In May 2013, the ICC pre-trial chamber I rejected the objection of inadmissibility regarding Al-Islam. The Court has reaffirmed its competence to judge Gaddafi’s son for crimes against humanity, arguing that current investigations by the national Libyan authorities were not covering the same facts and behaviours as those under the ICC’s mandate. Today, Libya has not made any steps towards the surrendering of Al-Islam to the Court.
In October 2013, the Court has nonetheless decided that Al-Senussi will be judged in Libya. It has indeed considered that the current investigations in front of the Libyan tribunals are in accordance with the principle of complementarity.
Challenges also arise in relation to domestic prosecutions of persons suspected of having committed crimes against humanity or war crimes. On 2 May 2012, the Libyan authorities adopted a blanket amnesty law granting immunity to former rebels who fought to oust Gaddafi’s regime. The immunity covers military, security or civilian acts undertaken by revolutionaries with the aim of ensuring the revolution’s success and its goal, thus applying to everyone from the rebel forces and for every crime. This effectively bars any prosecution of international crimes committed by the opposition and is debatable in light of the findings of the International Commission of Inquiry about the commission of international crimes by both parties.