The Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, has promoted the war criminal Mahmoud Al-Werfalli, local sources reported yesterday.
Al-Werfalli is a Libyan officer who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
The LNA's media division said in a statement that Haftar had described Al-Werfalli as "invincible."
Haftar's decision comes as defiance to the ICC, which issued an arrest warrant in 2017 against Al-Werfalli for allegedly "committing war crimes in Libya." However, he was set free following an order by the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in May.
In addition, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) last year called for Werfalli's "immediate extradition."
In early April, Haftar's east Libya-based forces launched a wide-ranging campaign to take over the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). They have however failed to achieve their primary objective, although they have captured several strategic towns and cities in the city.
Werfalli, the leader of LNA's Saiqa Brigade, is wanted by ICC and Interpol for war crimes. Haftar shows total disregard to these institutions and has issued an order to promote Werfalli from MAJ to LTC, sources tell @libyanexpress. #WerfalliWatch https://t.co/jCUGHyGJuP
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) July 8, 2019
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011 when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power — one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli — and a host of heavily armed militia groups.