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Haftar promotes Libyan war crimes suspect wanted by ICC

Mahmoud Werfalli is wanted by the ICC for executing 33 people [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2019

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Forces loyal to rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar have announced the promotion of Mahmoud Werfalli, wanted by the ICC for the execution of 33 people, from major to lieutenant-colonel

Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has ordered the promotion of a suspected war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the official Facebook page of Haftar’s Military Media Department announced on Sunday evening.

Mahmoud Al-Werfalli, a major in Haftar’s elite Sa’iqa Brigades who is wanted by the ICC for killing 33 people in Benghazi, was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, the Facebook page said.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Werfalli, 41, in August 2017, accusing him of ordering or personally carrying out 33 executions in six separate incidents in and around Benghazi.

Eight videos showed Werfalli carrying out or ordering the killings. One video made in January 2018 showed Werfalli executing ten people outside the Bayt al-Ridwan Mosque in Benghazi without trial.

Werfalli said that they were involved in a car bombing which killed 34 people the day before at the mosque and that he was avenging “the martyrs” of the suicide bombing.

Libyans were outraged after another video appeared showing children mimicking the executions.

In February 2018, Werfalli surrendered to Haftar’s military police and placed under house arrest but was released just five months later.

In August 2018, Ahmad al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s forces, said that Werfalli would not be handed over to the ICC because “the issues happened in Libya”.

Werfalli’s promotion appears to be a new defiance of the ICC by Haftar’s forces, who receive support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE and whose stronghold is in eastern Libya.

In April 2019, Haftar’s forces attacked forces loyal to the internationally-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli.

More than one thousand people have been killed in ongoing fighting.

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