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Paul McLoughlin

Wanted Libyan militia chief 'surrenders' to eastern authority

Werfalli allegedly oversaw or carried out the killing of prisoners of war [Screenshot: YouTube]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2018

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A Libyan militia leader wanted by the ICC for allegedly murdering a group of prisoners of war has reporedly handed himself over to the eastern authority's military police.
A Libyan militia chief wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes reportedly handed himself over to the eastern authority's military police on Wednesday, leading to riots by supporters in Benghazi.

Mahmoud al-Werfalli is allegedly responsible for summarily executing a number of prisoners of war in recent months. The ICC has called for him to be handed over to The Hague to stand trial for the alleged war crimes.

A source told Reuters news agency that the militia leader, who is linked to renegade eastern authority chief Khalifa Haftar, had surrendered to local military police and held at the General Command.

Hours later, Libya Observer reported that a leading fighter loyal to Werfalli threatened to destroy the General Command unless the militia chief was released.

Videos emerged showing Werfalli supporters in Benghazi celebrating his release although no footage of the fighter was shown.

The ICC told The New Arab that they are still waiting to verify the reports.

"The International Criminal Court is aware of the alleged surrender of ICC suspect, Mr Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli to military authorities in eastern Libya, as covered by numerous media outlets," the court said. 

"We understand that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor is verifying the veracity of this information at this stage."

Last month, Werfalli was purportedly caught on camera shooting dead ten detainees in Benghazi in revenge for a bomb attack on a mosque in the eastern Libyan city.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda condemned the killings and renewed calls for his arrest.

Werfalli has rejected previous demands by the ICC to surrender himself to The Hague after an arrest warrant was issued last August.

He was reportedly arrested by Haftar's Libyan National Army militia in August but days later the ICC chief prosecutor said he was still at large.

Werfalli headed the Libyan National Army's special forces unit, which has been held responsible for the kidnapping and murder of a number of civilians and prisoners of war.

Dozens of bodies have been found in areas of eastern Libya controlled by the militia, showing signs of torture and summarily executed.

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