ICC condemns bombing, revenge killings in Libya's Benghazi

ICC condemns bombing, revenge killings in Libya's Benghazi
The International Criminal Court has condemned a horrific bombing outside a mosque in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and subsequent revenge killings by militia leaders.
3 min read
27 January, 2018
Benghazi was hit by twin devastating bomb blasts Tuesday [AFP]
An International Criminal Court prosecutor has condemned the bombing of a mosque in eastern Libya's Benghazi this week and the subsequent alleged revenge killings by a militia leader in control of the city, hours later.

Two car bombs were detonated outside the Bayaat al-Radwan mosque on Tuesday evening, killing at least 34 people - including children - and injuring dozens more.

Shortly after, a video emerged allegedly showed Major Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli of the Libyan National Army [LNA] militia, which controls Benghazi, publically executing ten prisoners outside the mosque.

Revenge killings

Videos showed ten blindfolded men wearing blue jumpsuits being paraded in front of the damaged mosque, where they are shot by the militia fighter with an assault rifle in revenge for the bomb blasts.

The militia later said that the prisoners were killed at the request of the bomb blast victims' families.

They warned more prisoners would executed if further bomb attacks took place in the city. Some witnesses told Newsweek that the men who were executed had no connection to the attack.

Werfalli has been wanted by the ICC since August 2017 for his alleged direct involvement in the summary executions of 37 other prisoners, which were also caught on camera.

ICC Prosecutor Fetou Bensouda condemned the bombing but said he was "equally appalled" by the videos that "purportedly show" Werfalli killing the prisoners outside the mosque.

"My Office remains committed to doing its part, within its means, by investigating and prosecuting grave crimes in Libya falling... in particular, the crimes of commanders and superiors, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrators or their affiliation," Bensouda warned in a statement.

"I once again repeat my call to Libya to take all necessary steps possible to immediately arrest and surrender Mr al-Werfalli to the ICC. I also repeat my call on all states... to support Libya in facilitating Mr al-Werfalli's arrest and surrender to the [ICC]."

Bensouda called on Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar to arrest Werfalli and hand him over to the court to "deter future crimes" in Libya.


Haftar's LNA previously stated that Werfalli had been arrested for the executions and was under investigation by a military prosecutor.

Despite this - and the ICC's calls for Werfalli to be tried in court - Werfalli appears to still hold a leading position in the militias controlling eastern Libya, under Haftar's ultimate command.

"I am dismayed that Mr al-Werfalli appears to remain in a position of command, and allegedly continues to commit crimes with impunity," Bensouda said in the statement.

"I once again call on General Khalifa Haftar, as commander of the LNA and superior of Mr al-Werfalli, to heed my previous call to the LNA to work with the Libyan authorities to enable the suspect's immediate arrest and surrender to the ICC."

Libya has been plunged into violence since former leader Muammar Gaddafi violently suppressed protests that broke out in 2011.

An armed uprising - backed by NATO and several Arab countries - led to the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi but rival militias have fought for control of the country ever since.

An UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli has vied for control in the country with a rival authority in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Haftar's forces - backed by the UAE and Egypt - have clashed with fighters linked to the Tripoli government and more frequently with Islamist militias in Benghazi, Derna and other eastern cities.