Posts Tagged ‘Mahmoud al-Werfalli’

East Libya Elite Force of Khalifa Haftar Refuses International Criminal Court Order To Arrest Mahmoud al-Werfalli For Possible War Crimes

August 16, 2017

BENGHAZI, Libya — An elite forces unit linked to the army that controls much of eastern Libya has snubbed international efforts to bring to justice one of its senior officers for allegedly executing dozens of prisoners.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday for Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a commander in the Special Forces of Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Image result for Mahmoud al-Werfalli, photos

Mahmoud al-Werfalli

The accusations against him relate to incidents in and near Benghazi in spring and early summer, towards the end of a three-year LNA campaign against Islamists and other opponents in Libya’s second city.

Videos circulated on social media appear to show Werfalli executing or overseeing the execution of masked and handcuffed prisoners

“The Special Forces strongly reject the arrest warrant,” spokesman Milad Al-Zwai said.

Zwai said the ICC should instead focus on arresting “those who killed and displaced men, women and children, and the people who meted out torture and killing and destruction.”

“We will continue our struggle against this oppressive faction,” he said without further explanation. His statement mentioned neither the videos nor the accusations against Werfalli.

In May, Werfalli announced his resignation from the Special Forces, but this was rejected by the unit’s top commander. The following month a U.N. panel of experts reported he was involved in running secret detention centers outside Benghazi.

The LNA has previously said it would investigate war crimes allegations in eastern Libya, where it is the main military force.

The Special Forces is an elite unit nominally under LNA control that joined the Benghazi campaign in its early stages.

Since announcing victory in the campaign in July, the LNA has extended its presence in the center and south of the divided country as it has vied for control with forces linked to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and other rivals.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Haftar last month committed to a conditional ceasefire and to work towards holding elections next spring in talks brokered by France.

Several previous attempts at peace deals have been scuttled by internal divisions between the myriad of competing armed groups that have emerged in oil-producing Libya since rebels toppled strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In July, the United Nations said it was deeply concerned that people detained by the LNA might be at risk of torture or summary execution.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said she “will not hesitate to bring new cases” in Libya, where evidence dictates.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ahmed Elumami, additional reporting and editing by Aidan Lewis; editing by John Stonestreet)

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International Criminal Court (ICC) Issues Arrest Warrant for a Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Charged With Executing Captives

August 15, 2017

THE HAGUE — Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a Libyan National Army (LNA)commander accused over the alleged execution of dozens of prisoners.

Prosecutors at the world’s permanent war crimes court are seeking Mahmoud al-Werfalli’s hand-over to face charges of murder during the armed conflict in Libya.

Image result for Mahmoud al-Werfalli, photos

Mahmoud al-Werfalli

According to the ICC, Werfalli “is alleged to have directly committed and to have ordered the commission of murder as a war crime” during seven incidents, involving 33 persons in June and July 2017 in and near Benghazi.

The LNA, which controls the eastern part of Libya, has been pushing to expand its presence in the central and southern part of the country where it has been vying for control with forces linked to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and other groups.

The United Nations called for the LNA to suspend Werfalli after a video in March allegedly showed Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs.

The LNA said it would investigate any potential war crimes but has not released any details of such a probe.

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

The ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes in Libya after a referral by the United Nations Security Council in 2011 and has been investigating alleged atrocities there.

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie van den Berg; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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Video shows 18 blindfolded ‘ISIS fighters’ being shot in the head in Libya

July 24, 2017
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • The men are understood to be ISIS fighters who were killed by the Libyan Army
  • Executioners walk up to a row of prisoners and shoot them dead with rifles
  • Killers then turn on their heels and walk back before the sequence is repeated

A shocking video has emerged showing 18 prisoners in orange jumpsuits getting shot in the back of the head from point-blank range in summary executions in Libya.

The men, understood to be ISIS fighters, are shown kneeling in four rows and facing away from their killers.

Executioners can be seen walking up slowly behind their targets before firing a spray of bullets from what look like semi-automatic assault rifles into the backs of their heads before another line of killers repeat the sequence.

It comes amid tensions between jihadists and Libyan forces in Benghazi after strongman Khalifa Haftar – a former soldier under the Gaddafi regime who has risen through the ranks to commander of the Libyan National Army – declared victory in the eastern city.

Scroll down for video 

Executioners, thought to be from the Libyan National Army, take aim at their targets - supposedly ISIS fighters in the country 

Executioners, thought to be from the Libyan National Army, take aim at their targets – supposedly ISIS fighters in the country

The killers spray their targets with bullets long after they have fallen to the ground in a heap

The killers spray their targets with bullets long after they have fallen to the ground in a heap

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

The gruesome video, seen by MailOnline, shows all 18 men in orange jumpsuits falling to the floor after being shot, but it it not clear who is pulling the trigger and giving the orders.

It is claimed by the Libyan Express the commander of the eastern Saiqa Force of Operation Dignity Mahmoud Al-Werfalli conducted the massacre.

He was also said to have ordered the killings by the Libyan Observer, who reported he had been promoted by Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, for his alleged role in killing policemen in May.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

It is understood those killed were ISIS fighters in Libya, according to Al Jazeera, who again claimed it was Al-Werfalli reading the charges before his proteges shoot the detainees dead.

In the video, a man can be seen reading from a piece of paper and men in military uniform can be seen walking up to their targets, taking one each, and unleashing a flurry of bullets on the command of their leader.

The kneeling men fall to the ground face-first, which doesn’t stop the gunmen from shooting.

Eventually, they turn on their heels and walk back together in a line before a new set of executioners walk forward and kill the next line of prisoners.

A man in an orange jumpsuit located in the second line appears to fall forward in an attempt to fool the executioners, but he is dragged back onto his knees and callously shot in the head in the second round of killings.

The sequence continues until all 18 men are dead.

The first row of prisoners are taken out by the first line of executioners in the video dated July 17

The first row of prisoners are taken out by the first line of executioners in the video dated July 17

Five prisoners lay face-down in the dirt after being shot in the back of the head at point-blank range

Five prisoners lay face-down in the dirt after being shot in the back of the head at point-blank range

Dust rises from the ground in the desert as the executioners stand behind the men they have killed

Dust rises from the ground in the desert as the executioners stand behind the men they have killed

Executioners holding up their semi-automatic assault rifles before pulling the trigger and killing their targets

Executioners holding up their semi-automatic assault rifles before pulling the trigger and killing their targets

The video is dated July 17, which means it would have come just days after the UN’s human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said called for the Libyan National Army (LNA) which controls the eastern part of the country to investigate summary executions of prisoners.

The UN’s human rights body and voiced concern at the fate of those still in their custody.

The LNA is pushing to expand its presence in central and southern Libya, where it has been vying for control with forces linked to the UN-backed government in Tripoli and other opponents.

LNA leader Khalifa Haftar has gained ground with Egyptian and Emirati support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to Libya’s conflict

UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said: ‘We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution.

‘Reports have suggested the involvement of Special Forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, in torturing detainees and summarily executing at least 10 captured men.’

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, rides in a tank as it drives down a street through the rubble in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017 following clashes with militants

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country’s east strongman Khalifa Haftar, rides in a tank as it drives down a street through the rubble in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017 following clashes with militants

Smoke billows from buildings during clashes between members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, and militants in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017

A picture shows a damaged building in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017.
Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar on July 5, 2017, announced the "total liberation" of second city Benghazi, which was overrun by jihadists three years ago

A picture shows a damaged building in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017.Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar on July 5, 2017, announced the ‘total liberation’ of second city Benghazi, which was overrun by jihadists three years ago

The Libyan National Army announced last March that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but has not shared any information, Throssell said.

‘We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations,’ she said.

Throssell also called on the group to suspend Mahmoud al-Werfalli from his duties as a Special Forces field commander pending the conclusion of such an investigation.

A video circulating on social media in March allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs, Throssell said.

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

‘One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches,’ she said.

‘The latest video, which was posted on social media this month, seems to shows LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners, while al-Werfalli is apparently heard accusing two men who have their hands tied behind their backs of belonging to terrorist groups,’ she said.

The LNA has declined comment on the images.

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Rights Group Calls for Probe Into Libyan Forces After Execution Video Shown — “Apparent war crimes” HRW says

July 24, 2017

CAIRO — Libya officials should investigate and dismiss forces involved in atrocities, a human rights group said on Monday, after a video appeared on social media purportedly showing a military unit executing 20 suspected militants.

The video was seen by Reuters on social media but it could not be independently verified. It appears to show a military unit linked to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar executing 20 hooded men they accuse of being Islamic State militants found guilty of bombings and killings.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

The video is the latest that appears to show Haftar’s Libyan National Army troops engaged in summary executions of suspected militants. An LNA spokesman in Benghazi declined to comment on the video but it has previously denied its forces are involved.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar executing 20 hooded men, photos

Khalifa Haftar appears in an “execution video” like this one from the Islamic State

“This latest mass execution, if confirmed, would be one more in a string of atrocities committed by members of the Libyan National Army forces and is yet another manifestation of how its members are taking the law into their own hands,” Eric Goldstein, Middle East and North Africa deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said.

The video was released in a week when Haftar and Fayez al-Serraj, the leader of Libya’s U.N.-backed government, are due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris for talks over a political agreement to end the factional fighting.

Haftar and his allies have rejected the authority of Serraj’s government in Tripoli that is supported by other armed factions and presented by Libya’s Western partners as the solution to the country’s crisis.

POWER STRUGGLE

Haftar’s LNA is one of the most powerful military forces in the country, gaining ground in the east and the south with the support of Egypt and United Arab Emirates who back his campaign against Islamist militants.

Libya has had no national army, despite the name of Haftar’s group, since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war sent the state spiralling into a power struggle among competing brigades of former rebels each backing rival political factions.

Goldstein said the LNA and the Libyan government needed to remove from duty those accused of violations and hold them accountable if found guilty after a transparent investigation.

“A failure to do so risks implicating senior military commanders in these apparent war crimes,” he said.

The video purports to show an LNA commander reading out a statement before rows of men kneeling in orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their heads and their hands bound. LNA forces move row by row to fire into the back of their heads and bodies.

“Executed by firing squad after they were found guilty,” a caption on the video reads.

The video did not explain how the men had been found guilty, but armed groups in Libya often say they are legitimate forces that carry out their own investigations, and have been accused of torturing and abusing prisoners.

An LNA special forces commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, appears in the video. The United Nations has previously called for the LNA to dismiss him after a video in March allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs.

Image result for Mahmoud al-Werfalli,, photos

Mahmoud al-Werfalli, at right

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

Earlier this month, the U.N. human rights body called on the LNA to investigate summary executions of prisoners and torture of those still in captivity. In March, the LNA said it would investigate potential war crimes but has not released any details of the probe.

The U.N. human rights office had no immediate comment about the latest video.

(Reporting by Patrick Markey)

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