Statement : |

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Mr Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli

As I have publicly stated in the past, my Office has been closely following events in Libya. In my last report to the United Nations Security Council ("UNSC"), I warned  all  parties to the conflict in Libya, and in particular commanders and other superiors, that they should prevent or repress the commission of atrocity crimes by their forces. I have also consistently stated that such crimes cannot be tolerated and that I, along with my Office, remain firmly committed to the fight against impunity in Libya and will not hesitate to bring new cases in accordance with the Rome Statute where the evidence of grave crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") demands doing so.  We continue to stay true to our mandate and to that commitment.

On 1 August 2017, I filed an under seal application with Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Mr Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli ("Mr al-Werfalli"), a Major in the Al-Saiqa forces, on charges of murder as a war crime under the Rome Statute for his direct participation in seven separate rounds of executions, in which a total of 33 people were murdered in cold blood in Benghazi or surrounding areas. Such egregious crimes, including the cruel and dehumanising manner by which they were perpetrated against helpless victims, must be stopped.  Accountability for atrocity crimes is better suited to advance the ends of peace and stability, not more violence.

Today, the Pre-Trial Chamber granted my request and issued a warrant of arrest against Mr al-Werfalli. My Office's pursuit of justice and the fight against impunity in Libya continues. The challenge now is the execution of the warrant of arrest and the surrender of Mr al-Werfalli to the custody of the ICC.

Libyan authorities have the primary responsibility to arrest and surrender Mr al-Werfalli to the ICC, and I call upon them to do so immediately so that the judges of the Court can independently and impartially assess the evidence to determine his guilt or innocence.

Mr al-Werfalli is presumed innocent until proven guilty and the burden is on my Office to prove that he is guilty of the crimes we allege he committed. My Office can only discharge that burden if Mr al-Werfalli appears before ICC judges.

I appeal to the international community to cooperate and assist Libya, as needed, to ensure the arrest and surrender of Mr al-Werfalli to the ICC without delay. I equally call on the UNSC to support such efforts. Timely and effective cooperation in the enforcement of warrants of arrest issued by the Court is crucial so that justice is done and is seen to be done.

I also reiterate my warning to all parties to the conflict that my Office remains seized of the situation in Libya and steadfast in its commitment to seek justice for victims of crimes that fall under ICC jurisdiction, in conformity with the Rome Statute. These grave crimes must be deterred through the force of the law.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in:  Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur (Sudan), the Central African Republic (two separate investigations), Kenya, Libya, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Palestine, Nigeria, Ukraine, Burundi, and the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia.

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Source : Office of the Prosecutor