February 7, 2018 / 11:33 PM / 4 months ago

Libyan commander wanted by ICC hands himself in to military police - source

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A Libyan commander sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the alleged summary execution of dozens of people has handed himself in to the military police in eastern Libya, a military source said on Wednesday.

It was not clear whether the apparent move would lead to any action being taken against the commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, or any restrictions on his movement.

Werfalli is a member of an elite unit of the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Werfalli last August. The same month, the LNA said it had detained Werfalli and was investigating him, but the ICC said it had received subsequent reports that Werfalli was at large and involved in additional killings.

Last month, the United Nations called for Werfalli to be handed over to the ICC immediately after images surfaced appearing to show him fatally shooting 10 people in front of a mosque in Benghazi hit by a twin car bombing the previous day.

A video was posted on social media late on Tuesday showing a man resembling Werfalli sitting on a sofa in military uniform at an undisclosed location, saying he would hand himself over to military police at LNA headquarters in the eastern town of Marj.

He said he was responding to an order from the LNA general command that he should be detained and investigated.

The LNA prevailed late in 2017 in a three-year military campaign against Islamists and other rivals for control of Benghazi.

Werfalli is wanted by the ICC for his alleged direct participation in seven incidents in which 33 people were killed during the closing stages of the campaign.

Werfalli is popular among many LNA supporters. Late on Wednesday, they closed roads across Benghazi and burned tires in the streets in protest against his reported arrest.

“My brother died by the hands of the terrorists, and the families of martyrs support what Mahmoud (al-Werfalli) did killing the terrorists,” one of the Benghazi demonstrators, Abdulsalem Al-Faitouri, told Reuters. “We will not keep silent while Mahmoud is in prison, whatever it costs us.”

Werfalli’s unit said last year that it rejected the ICC warrant.

Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Peter Cooney

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