The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing him of torturing and killing opponents of his regime.
The warrants issued by the Hague-based court also cover Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.
A statement, read out by presiding judge Sanji Monageng, said the ICC had "reasonable grounds to believe" that the three men ordered murders and persecution of civilians.
Gaddafi, who as "the recognized and undisputed leader of Libya had absolute, ultimate and unquestioned control" over the state, designed a state policy "aimed at deterring and quelling, by any means, including by the use of lethal force, the demonstrations of civilians against the regime," the Pre-Trial Chamber I said.
Saif al-Islam is "the most influential person" within Gaddafi's inner circle, the warrant says, although he holds no official position.
Sanussi "used his powers over the military forces, commanded the forces in Benghazi and directly instructed the troops to attack civilians demonstrating in the city," the court alleged.
Mikhail Margelov, Russia's special envoy to Africa, said the warrant was not the "final verdict," and that "options were still open" to Gaddafi for "different scenarios of the Libyan political resolution."
He warned, however, that Gaddafi should act quickly and "put forward some real initiatives" at an African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea on June 30.
"Today it is clear to every one that it is impossible for Gaddafi to retain his political positions and for his family their economic influence," Margelov told RIA Novosti.
Thousands of people have died in the five-months-old conflict, and more than 650,000 people have been displaced.
A NATO-led operation to protect Libyan civilians enters its 100th day today.