Libya: Gaddafi 'Used Rape As Weapon Of War'

Colonel Gaddafi ordered mass rapes and gave sex drugs to troops to encourage them to attack women, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has claimed.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said witnesses had confirmed the Libyan government was buying containers of a Viagra-type drug to allow the policy to be carried out.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo has already requested arrest warrants against Col Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libya's spy chief on charges of crimes against humanity.

ICC judges are currently considering this request - but the prosecutor said fresh charges of mass rape may be brought.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo, who spoke in a New York news conference, said that until recently, the question had been whether Col Gaddafi himself could be associated with the rapes "or is it something that happened in the barracks?"

He said there was new information that Col Gaddafi had decided to authorise the rapes.

"It never was the pattern he used to control the population," he said.

"The rape is a new aspect of the repression.

"Apparently, he decided to punish using rapes."

The prosecutor said it was difficult to know how widespread such rapes were but he had received information there were several hundred victims in some areas.

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox told Sky News he thinks the allegations are to be expected but that there is "serious evidence" behind them.

Spokesman for the Libyan government, Moussa Ibrahim, said: "It's the same old nonsense. We have always asked, time and again, for people to come on the ground and investigate all accusations against us.

"Unfortunately many people to choose to accuse us cheaply of many many crimes and they refuse to come on the ground and investigate."

Amid the fresh allegations, Western and Arab nations are due to meet in Abu Dhabi to discuss the "end game" for Col Gaddafi, a US official has said.

Ministers from the Libya contact group, an alliance including the United States, France and Britain, as well as Arab allies Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, agreed in May to set up a fund to help the rebels in the civil war.

They are expected to firm up this commitment in the United Arab Emirates capital and ask rebels to give a detailed plan on how they would run the country if Gaddafi stood down as leader.

"The international community is beginning to talk about what could constitute end-game to this," one senior US official said.

"That would obviously include some kind of ceasefire arrangement and some kind of political process ... and of course the question of Gaddafi and perhaps his family is also a key part of that," the official said.

The summit comes after Nato stepped up airstrikes on Tripoli , prompting the heaviest day of bombardment yet on the country earlier this week.

Col Gaddafi's troops have also escalated their violence against rebel forces, with deaths reported in the stronghold of Misratah.

Forces advanced on the city, attacking it from three sides.

Speaking from inside Misratah, rebel spokesman Hassan al Misrati said shells were being fired from the east, west and south.

He said of the dictator's forces: "They are trying to enter the city. They are still outside, though."

There was no immediate comment from Col Gaddafi's government.