A special forces unit linked to the Libyan National Army (LNA) declined the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) request to hand over one of its commanders, Marhmoud al-Werfalli, for allegedly executing dozens of prisoners.
“The Special Forces strongly reject the arrest warrant,” spokesman Milad Al-Zwai said, despite earlier announcements from LNA, saying that it would investigate war crimes allegations in eastern Libya, where it is the main military force.
He called on ICC to focus on bringing to justice those who “killed and displaced men, women and children, and the people who meted out torture and killing and destruction.” Al Zwai vowed to “continue the struggle against this oppressive faction,” most likely referring to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and other rivals of LNA.
International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday for a Libyan National Army commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli, accused of executing dozens of prisoners during the armed conflict in Libya.
The victims were either civilians or injured fighters, and there is no evidence they have been afforded a trial by a legitimate court, the ICC’s judges say. The charges are backed up by recordings of witness interviews, video material and other evidence, the warrant said. Al-Zwai’s statement mentioned none of this.
After LNA seized Benghazi and large swaths of territory in the center and south of the country, previously held by the government forces, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and LNA leader Khalifa Haftar agreed to a conditional ceasefire on the road to holding elections next spring.
Libya descended into a new civil war following the 2011 conflict resulting in toppling and execution of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. In the ensuing power vacuum, the country was taken over by rival governments and militias.
Werfalli is allied to Khalifa Haftar, a former Ghaddafi’s general and leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army, which now controls key Libyan oil ports and the east of the country.
LNA is the most powerful military in Libya, which recently asserted its dominance by seizing Benghazi after a three-year campaign against other militant groups.