Libyan Pilots Refuse To Bomb People, Flee To Malta

From Al Zazeera

Two Libyan air force jets landed in Malta on Monday and their pilots have asked for political asylum.

The pilots claimed to have defected after refusing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya.

The pilots, who said they were colonels in the Libyan air force, were being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their identities.

Meanwhile, a group of Libyan army officers have issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Muammar Gaddafi.

The officers urged the rest of the Libyan army to march to Tripoli.

Earlier, diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations sided on Monday with the revolt against their country's leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi."

In a statement issued as protests erupted across Libya, the mission's deputy chief and other staff said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded "the removal of the regime immediately" and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.

Gaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli.

The statement issued in New York said hundreds had died in the first five days of the uprising.

A spokesman for the UN mission, Dia al-Hotmani, said the statement had been issued by deputy permanent representative Ibrahim Dabbashi and other staff.

Other Libyan officials said they did not know the whereabouts of permanent representative Abdurrahman Shalgham, a former Libyan foreign minister, but believed he was not in New York. He was not associated with the statement, they said.

Hotmani said that at a meeting on Monday at the mission's New York offices, staff "expressed our sense of concern about the genocide going on in Libya."

"We are not seeing any reaction from the international community," he added.

"The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi has asserted clearly, through his sons the level of ignorance he and his children have, and how much he despises Libya and the Libyan people," the Arabic language statement said.

It condemned Gaddafi's use of "African mercenaries" to try to put down the rebellion and said it expected "an unprecedented massacre in Tripoli."

'Cut the snake's head' The statement called on "the officers and soldiers of the Libyan army wherever they are and whatever their rank is ... to organise themselves and move towards Tripoli and cut the snake's head."

It appealed to the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libyan cities to prevent mercenaries and weapons being shipped in.

It also urged guards at Libya's oil installations to protect them from any sabotage "by the coward tyrant," and urged countries to prevent Gaddafi from fleeing there and to be on the lookout for any money smuggling.

Dabbashi and his colleagues called on The Hague-based International Criminal Court to start an immediate inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity they said Gaddafi and his sons and followers had committed.

They called on employees of Libyan embassies all over the world to "stand with their people", especially the mission at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, which they said should seek action by the UN Human Rights Council there.

It was not immediately clear how many other Libyan embassies were likely to heed the call, although the country's ambassador in India, Ali al-Essawi, said he was resigning in protest at the violent crackdown in his homeland.

Libya's ambassadors to the European Union, Bangladesh and Indonesia have also resigned