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Libyan National Army arrests Haftar-linked commander sought by ICC

Human Rights Watch said in March that the LNA may have committed war crimes. [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 August, 2017

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The Libyan National Army (LNA) has detained Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a senior military commander suspected of executing dozens of prisoners in the war-torn city of Benghazi.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) has detained Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a senior military commander suspected of executing dozens of prisoners in the war-torn city of Benghazi.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant this week against al-Werfalli, a commander in the Special Forces of the LNA, accusing him of committing murder as a war crime.

The Libyan commander is accused of involvement in at least seven incidents between 2016 and 2017, in which he allegedly personally shot or ordered the execution of people who were either civilians or injured fighters.

"We inform you that the defendant in your judicial case, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, is under investigation for the cases against him by the general military prosecutor and is now under arrest," the LNA said in a statement.

"We announce our readiness to cooperate with you in informing you of the result and course of the judicial case," the LNA said.

However, the statement gave no indication that the LNA would be prepared to hand Werfalli over to the ICC.

The Special Forces, a powerful elite unit under Khalifa Haftar's LNA, had previously dismissed the ICC arrest warrant, saying the ICC should arrest the LNA's opponents instead.

The brigade has been battling alongside forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in the country's second city Benghazi, where jihadi groups were recently expelled from after a three-year campaign.

The LNA controls the eastern part of Libya and is pushing to expand its presence in the south and centre of the country, with the support of Egypt and the UAE.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich country.

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