Biscuit factory air strike leads to calls for Hafter’s prosecution for war crimes
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 19 November 2019:
Libya’s Faiez Serraj-aligned Interior Ministry yesterday called upon the international community to prosecute Khalifa Hafter, in his role as commander of his Libyan National Army (LNA), for the air strike on a biscuit factor yesterday that killed 7 and injured 19. The Interior Ministry statement also called for the prosecution of China’s Wing Loong drone manufacturer for supplying its drones used in the attack.
Meanwhile, in New York, Serraj’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala addressed the Security Council in which he stressed that the crime of targeting a biscuit factory in the Wadi Al-Rabea suburb of Tripoli, which killed Libyan, Egyptian and African citizens, is a war crime by all standards and that the killings and abuse were carried out by a group of ‘‘terrorists belonging to Haftar’s militias’’.
Commenting on the incident to the UN Security Council, UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame said ”I am angry and sad to report to you that today there was another mass civilian casualty event. A biscuit factory in the Wadi Rabi’a neighbourhood of Tripoli was hit by an air strike, according to early information. The attack has caused what we currently believe to be ten fatalities and over 35 injuries. It appears that the majority of the dead were migrants, but that at least two were Libyans. Regardless of whether the attack deliberately targeted the factory or was an indiscriminate attack, it may constitute a war crime. We are working to verify the facts and will update you accordingly”.
Siala also added that the continued aggression of Haftar’s militias on the capital Tripoli was caused by international silence and the division of the Security Council on the Libyan issue, calling on the Security Council to take a unified stand against this aggression.
Siala wondered what the Security Council wanted from the legitimate government of the country? Is it intended to stand idly by and not defend the institutions of the legitimate state, stressing that his government is defending its legitimate institutions is a natural right guaranteed by all international laws. He also called on the Security Council to consider how Haftar’s militias were able to get all their arsenal of arms under the Security Council’s arms embargo and that those who should be held accountable are Hafter’s militias, not the internationally recognized government of Libya.
The Minister called on the withdrawal of Hafter’s militias and the return to their places before 4th April attack, in addition to obliging the countries involved in Libya to immediately stop any actions that would affect the political process, especially neighbouring countries, in any dialogue including the Berlin process.
He also addressed the negative effects of the sanctions regime in place on Libya’s frozen assets since 2011, calling on the Security Council to amend the sanctions regime to improve the management of Libya’s frozen assets without lifting the freeze and keeping them for the benefit of the Libyan people.