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UN calls on Libya’s Haftar to investigate execution of prisoners

The United Nations on Tuesday called for the Libyan National Army (LNA) to investigate the summary executions of prisoners, expressing concern at the fate of those still in their custody.

Led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, the LNA controls the eastern part of Libya and is pushing to expand its presence in the south and centre of the country, with the support of Egypt and the UAE.

In early July, Haftar announced the “total liberation” of its second city Benghazi, which was overrun by militants three years ago.

“We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution,” UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell told a news briefing.

Reports have suggested that the Special Forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, have tortured detainees and summarily executed “at least 10 captured men”, she added.

“We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations.”

Haftar’s LNA had announced in March that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but has not shared any information with the UN.

Earlier that month, a video allegedly showing a Special Forces commander executing prisoners circulated on social media.

The footage showed field commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling facing a wall with their hands tied behind their back.

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

“One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches,” the UN’s Throssell said.

This month, a video posted on social media showed LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners while al-Werfalli accused the two men of belonging to terrorist groups.

The LNA has not commented on the images.

Immediately following the capture of Benghazi, LNA fighters celebrated by exhuming the dead bodies of Islamist fighters, including their senior leader, Jalal Al-Makhzoum, before parading them through town.

The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya called the LNA’s actions a “war crime“.

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