15 August 2017

Libya: 'War Crimes' - ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Libyan Commander

Photo: RFI
Soldiers in Benghazi (file photo).

From ordering executions to shooting vulnerable prisoners, a Libyan commander has been accused of committing war crimes. The ICC has urged authorities to detain to determine his culpability in several summary executions.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday issued a war crimes arrest warrant against a senior Libyan military commander after multiple video appeared to show him participating and ordering summary executions.

The ICC "issued a warrant of arrest for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, allegedly responsible for murder as a war crime in the context of the non-international armed conflict in Libya," the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Al-Werfalli serves as a senior commander in the al-Saiqa brigade, an elite unit of soldiers that defected from the Libyan National Army during the 2011 uprising against the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The war crimes suspect is suspected of involvement in at least seven incidents dating back to 2016 in which he shot or ordered the execution of more than 30 people, many of whom appeared to be prisoners.

Video evidence

In one video, al-Werfalli is reportedly seen shooting an unarmed person, after which he tells the dead body: "You have been misled by he who did you harm. You have been misled by Satan."

In another incident, the Libyan commander is reportedly seen reading a document after which he apparently orders a firing squad to execute 15 people dressed in orange jumpsuits. The men were reportedly members of the "Islamic State" militant group in Libya.

"There is no information in the evidence to show that they have been afforded a trial by a legitimate court, whether military or otherwise, that would comport to any recognized standard of due process," said the ICC.

Several of the videos used as evidence in the ICC's case were circulated social media networks and forums. Al-Werfalli's al-Saiqa brigade has remained loyal to the forces of the notorious Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar.

'Determine his guilt or innocence'

The prosecutor's office of the ICC urged Libyan and international authorities to assist them in detaining al-Wefalli, saying he will enjoy a fair trial to determine his involvement in such war crimes.

"Libyan authorities have the primary responsibility to arrest and surrender Mr. al-Werfalli to the ICC, and I call upon them to do so immediately so that the judges of the court can independent and impartially assess the evidence to determine his guilt or innocence," said the prosecutor's office.

Read more: Beyond Libya: Russia's strategy in the Middle East

In 2011, the UN Security Council referred the situation in Libyan to the court, giving it jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That year, the North African country was splunged into chaos when anti-government protesters demanded Gadhafi step down, prompting a brutal government crackdown. NATO forces responded by leading an operation against the government.

ls/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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