Probe Nato commanders, Motlanthe urges court

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Nato commanders for possible crimes against humanity during the organisation's bombing operations in Libya.

He was replying to questions in parliament on the volatile situation in the North African country.

Motlanthe said the court - which has issued warrants of arrest for the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and some of his close associates - should extend its investigation to the role played by Nato forces in assisting the rebels in their bid to topple the Gaddafi regime.

"We note they [Nato] are attempting to create the impression that the rebels are acting on their own in their attacks into Tripoli but there are clear links and co-ordination at that level.

"The question is whether the [court] will have the wherewithal to unearth that information and bring those who are responsible to book, including the Nato commanders on the ground," he said.

In Johannesburg, a group of "concerned Africans" addressed an open letter to Nato saying Africa ran the risk of being "re-colonised".

One of the signatories, University of Johannesburg head of politics Chris Landsberg, said Nato had "violated international law . they had a regime-change agenda".

The Nato bombardment was sanctioned by the UN Security Council after the passing of a resolution, which South Africa supported, aimed at protecting civilian lives following Gaddafi's threat to squash protests against his rule, which began in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The resolution empowered Nato - an alliance of North American and European nations - to enforce a no-fly zone to protect civilians.

Motlanthe said the Nato action in Libya would make it difficult for the UN to sanction similar interventions in other countries, notably Syria, where the population has taken to the streets to demand regime change.

"It creates a problem for future interventions . because of this situation created in Libya the Security Council has not been able to agree on how to intervene in Syria." - Additional reporting Sapa

[Source: By Caiphus Kgosana, The Times, ZAF, 25Aug11]

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