The court had grounds to believe he had ordered attacks on civilians during Libya’s four-month uprising, it said.

The Hague-based court also issued warrants for two of Col Gaddafi’s top aides – his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi…

On Sunday, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the court was overly preoccupied with pursuing African leaders and had “no legitimacy whatsoever”.

But the arrest warrant was welcomed by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said it further demonstrated “why Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy and why he should go immediately”.