Libyan Court-Martial Defies ICC after Releasing War Crimes Suspect

A Libyan military commander, accused of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been released and the charges against him dropped following a court-martial in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

An outstanding arrest warrant issued by the Hague-based ICC for Mahmoud Al Werfalli, the commander of the Saiqa Forces which falls under renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), was also declared null and void by the military court, the Libya Observer reported on Monday.

Werfalli stands accused by the ICC of war crimes, including the summary execution of political opponents against the backdrop of ongoing militia fighting in Libya, as civil unrest continues to plague the North African country following the 2011 revolution.

The ICC prosecutor discussed the Libyan commander’s atrocities several times during meetings of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and urged the Libyan authorities to hand him over. Last February Werfalli said he had surrendered to the Marj city’s military prosecutor for the crimes for which he was charged.

However, despite the Benghazi court-martial ruling, ICC spokesperson Fadi Al Abdallah has confirmed the arrest warrant against Werfalli remains in place.

In another legal development in Libya, two people were brought before the Tripoli Court of Appeal on Sunday during its 13th session to hear evidence about the Abu Salim prison massacre in the capital of Tripoli in 1996.

Abdullah Al Senussi and Abdullah Mansour stand accused of taking part in the massacre of 1,200 prisoners who were executed in cold blood on the pretext of quashing a rebellion inside the prison against security officials. The slaughter was carried out during the rule of former Libyan president, the late Muammar Gadaffi.

During the hearing the judge, after listening to lawyers representing nine other defendants, he ordered the re-arrest of six of the defendants who had recently been released.

The hearing has been adjourned until February 3.

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