Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled was once the head of Libya’s internal security agency and the man on whose shoulders laid the major responsibility of squashing any and every opposition to the reign of the late dictator, Moammar Gaddafi.
It has been over five years since the death of Gaddafi and the landscape of Libya has changed. Where Mohamed Khaled was once a feared leader, he has since dropped out of the unkind spotlight now focused on him.
On Monday, his situation was worsened as International judges unsealed an arrest warrant for his arrest accusing him of carrying out war crimes in 2011. The warrant in question was first issued in 2013 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and allots to Mohamed Khaled three charges of war crimes and four crimes against humanity.
The warrant was unsealed in the midst of a legal tug of war between the court and Libyan authorities to transfer Kadhafi’s jailed son Seif al-Islam to the tribunal in The Hague to face trial for crimes against humanity. It would seem that every association with Gaddafi is now a negative thing where before it was a thing to be desired.
According to the warrant for Khaled’s arrest, between February and August 2011, the military, intelligence and security agencies carried out attacks on the civilian population “in furtherance of a policy designed by the Libyan state to quash the political opposition to the Kadhafi regime by any means”.
Those attacks were said to include the use of “lethal force” and “arresting, detaining, torturing and abusing perceived political opponents”. Accordingly, prisoners across Libya “were subjected to various forms of mistreatment, including severe beatings, electrocution, acts of sexual violence and rape, solitary confinement” as well as mock executions.
The warrant spelled out that as the head of the agency from February to August 2011, Khaled “had the authority to implement Kadhafi’s orders.” The prosecutor’s office had asked that the warrant be made public to facilitate his arrest and surrender. The belief is that his capture will be helped by the fact that “all states will then be aware of its [the warrants] existence,”
Libyan media has it that Mohamed Khaled was initially arrested in Cairo in April 2012, but was released again as there was no warrant against him. It was then that he dropped out of sight. The international court’s warrant appeals to the authorities in Egypt to co-operate with the court’s request for his arrest and surrender.
Libya is actually not a party to the Rome Statute but the UN Security Council unanimously mandated the tribunal to investigate abuses in the country in 2011. Since then, nobody has stood trial for the crimes of humanity committed in Libya. One case against Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi was dropped, after it was declared inadmissible in October 2013.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, however, vowed that her office would keep up its investigations and said that Libya is a priority for her office. In fact, in November she told the UN Security Council that she would seek to expand investigations to “potentially include alleged crimes committed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.”