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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Gadhafi

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, Libya, April 10, 2011. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Pier Paolo Cito.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi Monday for alleged crimes against humanity.

Warrants were also released for Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanoussi. The international court at The Hague claims the trio is responsible for the murders and persecutions of Libyan civilians during the uprising in the North African nation aimed at ending Gadhafi’s 41-year grip on power.

It’s not clear what effect the warrants will have. Many African nations aren’t I.C.C. signatories and others have refused to act on international arrest warrants, including one issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird wrapped up a secret trip to Libya Monday. He met with the leader of the National Transitional Council, which was formally recognized by Parliament earlier this month. Baird met with the rebel group in Benghazi to determine if it’s ready to take control if Gadhafi is ousted.

Baird’s visit was also aimed at gauging how Canadian humanitarian aid is being used.

Parliament recently voted in favour of extending the Canadian mission in Libya until September. Canada has committed seven fighter jets, a warship, patrol planes and aerial tankers to help enforce the UN no-fly zone and an arms embargo on Libya.

Baird’s trip ended and the arrest warrants were issued as NATO air strikes continued to target the Libyan leader’s compound in Tripoli. Two missiles hit Gadhafi’s personal bus inside his Bab al-Aziziya compound Monday. Libyan officials said no one was hurt.

France, Britain and the United States began targeting Libyan military sites on March 19 under the United Nations’ mandate of protecting civilians. NATO assumed control of the effort on March 31.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press.