ICC issues arrest warrant for Benghazi commander

2017-08-15 20:27
International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court

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The Hague - International judges issued a war crimes arrest warrant on Tuesday against a senior Libyan military commander, suspected of involvement in the deaths of 33 people in the war-torn city of Benghazi.

"The International Criminal Court has 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 tribunal said in a statement.

Al-Werfalli, born in 1978, is a senior commander in the Al-Saiqa brigade, an elite unit which defected from the Libyan National Army after the uprising against longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Since then it has been battling alongside forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, which has recently been liberated after a three-year campaign against jihadist groups.

Al-Werfalli is accused of involvement in at least seven incidents in 2016 and 2017 in which he allegedly personally shot or ordered the execution of people who were either civilians or injured fighters.

"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 recognised standard of due process," the ICC's judges said in the arrest warrant.

The evidence included video footage purportedly showing Al-Werfalli shooting a hooded and unarmed person and afterwards telling the dead body: "You have been misled by he who did you harm. You have been misled by Satan."

In another incident, Al-Werfalli is reportedly seen in video footage reading from a document before personally commanding a firing squad which then shoots 15 people dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, the ICC's judges said.

Al-Werfalli and two other men then allegedly personally execute three people while ordering the execution of two others.

"The video depicting the incident, involving a total 20 executed persons, was posted on social media on 23 July 2017," the judges said.

The ICC, set up to investigate and prosecute the world's worst crimes, opened its probe into Libya in March 2011 to investigate atrocities committed during the uprising against Gaddafi, which erupted a month earlier.

Libya was then still under the iron-fist rule of Gaddafi, who was killed a few months later by rebels in the NATO-backed uprising.

The country has been ravaged by war since then as various groups battle for control.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  libya  |  north africa

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