A tablet provided by a mercenary for the Russian Wagner group in Libya provides evidence of the mercenaries’ involvement in mining and booby trapping of civilian areas and other possible war crimes, BBC News reported on Wednesday.
The investigation, mostly conducted through evidence from the tablet’s contents, has revealed the extent of operations by the shadowy Russian mercenary group in Libya’s civil war, which include links to war crimes and the Russian military.
As the BBC reported, they also managed to gain rare access to two former warriors. One of them admitted that the group killed prisoners. “No one wants an extra mouth to feed.”
A Libyan villager described how he played dead when his relatives were killed. His testimony helped the BBC team identify a suspected killer.
A Libyan government soldier recalled another possible war crime and also remembered how a comrade, his friend, capitulated to Wagner warriors but was shot twice in the stomach. The soldier has not seen him since then, nor have three other friends taken away at the same time.
The tablet reveals the group’s key role in Libya and reveals traceable fighter code names.
As reported, the tablet also provided evidence of mercenaries’ involvement in mining and booby-trapping in civilian areas, emphasizing that placing landmines without marking them is a war crime.
The tablet was left behind by an unknown Wagner warrior after the group’s mercenaries withdrew from areas south of Tripoli in the spring of 2020.
With the support of Arab and Western countries — mainly Russia, France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mercenaries, and foreign warriors — Putist General Khalifa Haftar’s eastern militia in Libya fought against the previously internationally recognized national agreement (GNA).
Turkey was GNA’s main supporter of the illegal eastern based Haftar forces during their offensive to capture Tripoli from the legitimate government. Turkey’s military support led to a GNA victory over Haftar’s forces. Since then, Libya has undergone a UN-led political process in a relatively stable and peaceful environment.
The content of the founded tablet contains maps in Russian across the front line, which provides a confirmation of Wagner’s significant presence and unsurpassed insight into the Group’s operations.
“There is drone material and code names of Wagner warriors, at least one of whom believes the BBC has identified it,” the report said.
Asked about the BBC’s claims, Russia’s foreign ministry said it was doing its utmost to promote a ceasefire and a political settlement of the crisis in Libya.
The ministry added that details of Wagner in Libya were mostly based on “rigged data” and aimed to “discredit Russia’s policy” in Libya.
On the other hand, one of Wagner’s former mercenaries told the BBC that Wagner is “a structure designed to advance the interests of the state beyond our country’s borders.”
Mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group based in war-torn Libya threaten security and stability throughout the North African region, especially the country’s neighbors.
The Wagner Group was formed as early as 2014 in Ukraine and is owned by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and is intensely involved in several conflicts. The group made its presence most pronounced in Syria and Libya, where Russia actively participated in the civil war and reportedly used the Wagner group as its representative in the region. The US African Command (AFRICOM) accused Russia on July 24, 2020 of “playing a helpless role in Libya by supplying supplies and equipment to the Wagner Group.”
The Wagner group has 2,000 personnel in Libya, according to the command. The group currently has bases in the cities of Sirte and Jufra.
According to diplomats, there are an estimated “more than 20,000” foreign mercenaries in Libya, and Libyan authorities, UN officials and world powers have demanded that these mercenaries leave.