ICC says Libya militia suspect dead, drops case

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The International Criminal Court on Wednesday confirmed the death of wanted war crimes suspect and Libyan militia leader Mahmoud al-Werfalli, saying it was dropping the case against him.

The decision by the Hague-based tribunal comes more than a year after reports that Werfalli, a member of forces loyal to eastern military Khalifa Haftar, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

“The Chamber considered the death of Mr al-Werfalli to be established and decided that the proceedings against him must accordingly be terminated,” the ICC said in a statement.

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This was after “considering the information and material provided by the prosecution, in particular witness statements, photographs, and social media material,” the court said.

The ICC issued a first warrant for Werfalli’s arrest in August 2017, accusing him of having ordered or personally carried out seven separate rounds of executions of 33 people in 2016 and 2017.

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 July 2018, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant for Werfalli for his “alleged responsibility for murder as a war crime.”

The court said he “allegedly shot dead 10 persons in front of the Bi’at al-Radwan Mosque” in Benghazi on January 24 that year.

Born in 1978, Werfalli was a commander of the Al-Saiqa Brigade, an elite unit that defected from Libya’s military during the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed President Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya has been mired in chaos and repeated rounds of conflict in the decade since.

Elections were scheduled for December last year but the vote has been indefinitely postponed.

Two factions belonging to interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah and rival prime minister Fathi Bashagha, have been fighting since Tripoli-based Dbeibah was appointed under a troubled UN-led peace process early last year.

Last month, Bashagha attempted to seize power in Tripoli, sparking pre-dawn clashes between armed groups supporting him and those backing Dbeibah.

It was the latest episode of political infighting to fill the power vacuum left after Gaddafi was toppled.

In February, parliament appointed Bashagha to take over, arguing that Dbeibah’s mandate had ended.

But Dbeibah has insisted he will only relinquish power to an elected administration.

Two other Libyans remain wanted by the ICC – Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Gaddafi, and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, formerly head of the internal security agency.

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