The United States, France and United Kingdom in a joint statement welcomed the Libya National Army (LNA) decision to probe unlawful killings along with its recognition of an ICC arrest warrant for an LNA commander.
In July, the United Nations called on Haftar’s Libya National Army LNA to probe the alleged involvement of the special forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, al Werfalli in particular, in torturing and executing detainees. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), there have been videos circulating around social media which allegedly show Werfalli executing kneeling men, or giving the order to have them shot.
“The governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States welcome the announcement on August 17 by the Libya National Army (LNA) that it will investigate reports of unlawful killings in Benghazi,” the statement issued by the State Department said on Friday. “We note that the LNA has recognized the arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court prosecutor for a member of the LNA, Major al-Werfalli.”
The LNA decided to suspend Werfalli from duty during the investigation, the release stated.
The US and its allies urge the LNA to ensure the investigation is carried out fairly and serves justice to all individuals responsible for unlawful killings, the release stated.
Haftar-linked commander, sought by ICC, arrested
Haftar’s forces known as ‘Libyan National Army (LNA)’ has detained Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a senior military commander suspected of executing dozens of prisoners in the war-torn city of Benghazi.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) has detained Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a senior military commander suspected of executing dozens of prisoners in the war-torn city of Benghazi.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant this week against al-Werfalli, a commander in the Special Forces of the LNA, accusing him of committing murder as a war crime.
The Libyan commander is accused of involvement in at least seven incidents between 2016 and 2017, in which he allegedly personally shot or ordered the execution of people who were either civilians or injured fighters.
“We inform you that the defendant in your judicial case, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, is under investigation for the cases against him by the general military prosecutor and is now under arrest,” the LNA said in a statement.
“We announce our readiness to cooperate with you in informing you of the result and course of the judicial case,” the LNA said.
However, the statement gave no indication that the LNA would be prepared to hand Werfalli over to the ICC.
The Special Forces, a powerful elite unit under Khalifa Haftar’s LNA, had previously dismissed the ICC arrest warrant, saying the ICC should arrest the LNA’s opponents instead.
The brigade has been battling alongside forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in the country’s second city Benghazi, where jihadi groups were recently expelled from after a three-year campaign.
The LNA controls the eastern part of Libya and is pushing to expand its presence in the south and centre of the country, with the support of Egypt and the UAE.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich country.