ICC issues second arrest warrant for Libyan militia chief accused of Benghazi executions

ICC issues second arrest warrant for Libyan militia chief accused of Benghazi executions
Libyan militia chief Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli is wanted by the International Criminal Court over the cold-blooded killings of 10 prisoners.
2 min read
05 July, 2018
Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli remains at large [Getty]
A second arrest warrant has been issued by the International Criminal Court for a Libyan military commander accused of personally shooting dead 10 jihadist prisoners after a Benghazi mosque attack.

The new warrant for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al‑Werfalli cites "his alleged responsibility for murder as a war crime" in the Libyan conflict, the ICC said in a statement on Thursday.

Werfalli is commander of the Benghazi-based al-Saiqa Brigade, an elite unit of the self-styled Libyan National Army led by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Despite an earlier warrant issued in August, he has remained at large.

Now ICC judges have "reasonable grounds to believe" that Werfalli "allegedly shot dead 10 persons in front of the Bi'at al-Radwan Mosque in Benghazi" on January 24.

Almost 40 people were killed and scores injured in twin car bombings outside the mosque after evening prayers frequented by jihadist opponents in Libya's second city. 

The first warrant accused Werfalli of the cold-blooded executions of at least 33 civilians or injured fighters in seven incidents in 2016 and 2017.

The ICC judges referred to video footage allegedly showing Werfalli personally shooting hooded and bound prisoners, or ordering a firing squad to open fire on them.

In February, Werfalli said in an unconfirmed Facebook video post that he had handed himself in to Haftar, insisting on his innocence, and justifying any executions as "sentences" against jihadist killers.

Libya fell into chaos after the ouster of strongman Moamer Gaddafi in October 2011, with competing authorities in Tripoli and the east vying for power.

Haftar supports an administration based in the east, while the UN-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority outside of the west of the country.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has repeatedly called for help in arresting Werfalli, as well as Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam, who is also wanted on charges of war crimes.

A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of former security chief Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, accused of war crimes committed in 2011.