Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Libyan Official: Haftar not Willing to Turn in ICC-Wanted Werfali

Libyan Official: Haftar not Willing to Turn in ICC-Wanted Werfali

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 - 09:30
Field Marshal Haftar is commander of the Libyan National Army. Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

Libyan National Army Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar held his position refusing to hand over LNA Saiqa Special Forces officer Mahmoud Werfali to the International Criminal Court.

A Benghazi-based official advocated for Werfali’s innocence.

"Werfali is innocent of all charges, and the commander-in-chief will not hand him over to anyone," the official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The LNA Saiqa Special Forces officer has been put through interrogation concerning posed allegations, yet his involvement was not substantiated,” the official added.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Werfali, a commander in the Al-Saiqa Brigade, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

"We have arrested Werfali based on reports we have received, but so far there is no concrete evidence. If these crimes are proven, there will be a trial and a conviction," Haftar said.

Haftar addressed the international community saying: "There are crimes being committed in Libya every day, so why are you focusing only on Werfali?"

A video posted by media outlets and on social networking sites in Libya in September showed Werfali overseeing the execution of 20 prisoners who were said to be fighting with “extremist groups” in Benghazi.

"Instead of the West lifting the ban on arming the Libyan army, which fights terrorists, it supports illegitimate parties," added Haftar.

ICC Prosecutor Bensouda said Werfali should be tried “for his direct participation in seven separate rounds of executions, in which a total of 33 people were murdered in cold blood in Benghazi or surrounding areas.”

"The ICC should focus on the arrest of those who killed and displaced men, women and children and who committed torture, murders and destructive acts in Libya," said LNA spokesman Milad al-Zawawi.

Last May, Werfali announced his resignation from the Special Forces, but it was rejected by the General Command. The following month, a UN panel of experts said he was involved in "managing secret detention black sites outside Benghazi."

In the same vein, Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Amr Abul Atta, responded to the ICC’s request to extradite Wefrali, saying that "the Rome Convention provides that the international tribunal cannot consider (pending cases) such as Werfali Trial so long that Libya’s jurisdictional authority is covering the case.

Atta also called on the court to not show bias through singling out a Libyan faction while overlooking others.

Editor Picks