ICC to investigate institutionalized gang-rape of women in Libya

The Hague, Netherlands (CNN) -- Security forces in Libya are allegedly using sexual enhancement drugs as a "machete" and gang-raping women they stop at checkpoints, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said.


Luis Moreno-Ocampo told CNN Monday that the court in The Hague will investigate allegations of institutionalized rape in the war-torn country.


"There are rapes. The issue is who organized them," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told CNN's Nic Robertson. "They were committed in some police barracks. Were the policemen prosecuted? What happened?" he asked.


Moreno-Ocampo said the criminal court has information about women who were stopped at checkpoints and, because they were carrying the flag of the rebels, were taken by police and gang raped.


He also said there were reports of the use of male sexual enhancement drugs, which he called a "tool of massive rape."


"There's some information with Viagra. So, it's like a machete," he said. "It's new. Viagra is a tool of massive rape.


"So we are investigating. We are not ready to present the case yet, but I hope in the coming month, we'll add charges or review the charges for rapes."


In late April, various media organizations -- including Foreign Policy magazine -- reported that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told a closed-door U.N. Security Council hearing that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been distributing Viagra pills to his troops "so they go out and rape."


The magazine, which attributed the information to a U.N. diplomat in the room, said Rice did not offer any evidence to support her claim.


Pfizer, the maker of the drug, could not be reached early Tuesday morning for comment.


It was also not clear whether Moreno-Ocampo used the term "Viagra" as a catch-all for male sexual enhancement drugs in general.


Perhaps the best-known alleged rape case in Libya is that of Eman al-Obeidy.


Al-Obeidy received worldwide attention on March 26, when she burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli while journalists staying there were having breakfast.


She told reporters she had been taken from a checkpoint east of Tripoli and held against her will for two days while beaten and raped by 15 men loyal to Gadhafi.


Interviews with Eman al-Obeidy


While notable for the international attention it received, al-Obeidy's case may not be an exception.


Moreno-Ocampo did not say how many women might have been raped in Libya since the start of the civil war.


"The shooting is in the public space. The arresting people is so massive, so pervasive," said Moreno-Ocampo. "(But) what happens inside the barracks with women is more difficult to know."


Also Monday, the ICC sought the arrest of Gadhafi and two relatives, linking them to "widespread and systematic" attacks on civilians as they struggle to hold power in Libya.


(To read original article, visit this CNN link)

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