The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants Monday for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity in the early days of their struggle to cling to power.
Judges announced that Gadhafi is wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple him from power after more than four decades, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.
Presiding judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana said Monday there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Gadhafi and his son are both "criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators" for the murder and persecution of civilians.
The warrants turn Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating any efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation.
Libyan officials rejected the court's authority before the decision was read out in a Hague courtroom, claiming the court had unfairly targeted 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.
Adam Schreck in Tripoli, Libya contributed to this report.