WASHINGTON — A US lawmaker fiercely opposed to NATO's role in the Libya conflict called Tuesday for the alliance's military chiefs to be held to account under international law for the deaths of Libyan civilians.
"Otherwise we will have witnessed the triumph of a new international gangsterism," Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, a leading opponent in the US Congress to Washington's role in the fighting, said in a statement.
Kucinich said that NATO forces had flouted UN Security Council resolutions in acting as "the air force for the rebels, who could not have succeeded but for NATO's attacks" and had "illegally pursued regime change."
"NATO's top commanders may have acted under color of international law but they are not exempt from international law," he said, as rebels against Moamer Kadhafi captured the Libyan strongman's fortified Tripoli compound.
"If members of the Kadhafi regime are to be held accountable, NATO's top commanders must also be held accountable through the International Criminal Court for all civilian deaths resulting from bombing," said Kucinich.
NATO has insisted that its attacks are in keeping with UN resolutions passed this year which allow military action to protect civilians in Libya.
But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed alarm at the number of civilian casualties in the conflict, including those inflicted in NATO air strikes.
And NATO's air attacks have drawn harsh criticism from members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa, who say the action goes beyond UN resolutions on Libya.