By Zeinab Mohammed Salih.
New York, 8 November 2017:
Three Libyan war crimes suspects, including Qaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam and Saiqa Special Forces major Mahmoud Warfali have not been handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite warrants for their arrest, the court’s chief prosecutor told the UN Security Council today.
Fatou Bensouda said that Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Hafter needed to prove his good faith by handing over Warfali, who is accused of murders that were recorded in seven gruesome pieces of footage and widely distributed on social media.
This August, the ICC issued a warrant for Warfali’s arrest. Bensouda said Hafter needed “to demonstrate, by concrete actions, respect for international justice by ensuring Mr Al-Warfali’s immediate transfer to the Libyan authorities so that he may be surrendered to the court [the ICC] without delay.”
The LNA had responded to the ICC warrant by saying that, on Hafter’s orders, Warfali was already under arrest and being investigated. This, the ICC later said it had reason to doubt. Bensouda reported to the Security Council today that it was possible that Warfali was still active in the LNA.
Besides Warfali, Bensouda said that the ICC still wanted the surrender of Saif Al-Islam and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, once head of Qaddafi’s internal security agency, to face war crimes charges. Saif has in fact already been tried in absentia in a Tripoli court, found guilty and been sentenced to death. However, this June he was released by the Zintanis who had captured him during the Revolution. He is now said to be living in Wirshefana, west of Tripoli but suffering from depression.
In a curious contradiction, Bensouda has always demanded that Saif be handed over for trial in the Hague because she insisted he could not receive a fair trial in Libya. However with Abdullah Senussi, who was indicted by the ICC along with Saif and Qaddafi himself in 2011, Bensouda agreed that the dictator’s intelligence chief and main enforcer could be given a fair trial in Libya. Senussi’s lawyers appealed unsuccessfully that he should only be prosecuted in the Hague. As it was, Senussi was tried along with Saif (who appeared initially by video link from Zintan and then not at all) and he too was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Bensouda today told the Security Council that she was gravely concerned at reports in recent months of more unlawful killings, including the execution of prisoners, kidnappings, torture and prolonged detentions without trial. She also mentioned the imprisonment, torture, rape and other ill-treatment of migrants in official and unofficial camps.
She further noted the discovery last month of the hand-cuffed bodies of 36 men outside Al-Abyar which showed signs of torture and had been shot in the head. Bensouda went on to condemn the air strikes in Derna in which at least 12 women and children had been killed.
However, she warned the Security Council, which is currently chaired by Italy, that she faced major problems in pursuing Libyan war criminals. On top of the lack of security, which made it impossible for her investigators to operate in Libya itself, Bensouda once again complained of lack of money. She insisted the “modest financial resources which must be spread across all situations currently [being] investigated by my office must be increased”. She promised however that next year she would make Libya a priority.
“ “I, along with my team” she said, “are determined to fulfil the responsibility entrusted to my office by the Rome Statute vis-a-vis Libya, following the council’s referral pursuant to resolution 1970”.