THE HAGUE, Netherlands — International judges ordered the arrest Monday of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for murdering civilians, as NATO warplanes pounded his Tripoli compound and world leaders stepped up calls for him to end his four-decade rule.
The International Criminal Court said Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi are wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple Gadhafi from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.
The warrants turn the three men into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation.
The warrants will be sent to Libya, where Gadhafi remained defiantly entrenched. But when the U.N. Security Council ordered the court to investigate the bloodshed in Libya, it also urged all nations and regional organizations to cooperate with the court.
Presiding judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana called Gadhafi the "undisputed leader of Libya" who had "absolute, ultimate and unquestioned control" over his country's military and security forces. She said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Gadhafi and his son are both responsible for the murder and persecution of civilians.
Libyan officials rejected the court's authority even before the decision was read in The Hague, accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africans while ignoring what they called crimes committed by NATO in Afghanistan, Iraq "and in Libya now."
"The ICC has no legitimacy whatsoever. We will deal with it. ... All of its activities are directed at African leaders," government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters Sunday.