Jailed Gaddafi loyalists demand freedom

2011-11-21 14:45

Tripoli - Inmates accused of bearing arms under the ousted regime of Libya's slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi have been rotting in jail for weeks with no charges against them, and now they want their freedom.

"First of all we want to know why we are here," said one prisoner, echoing the demands of other detainees at Al-Khandak prison in Tripoli's Tajura suburb.

In the jail, the ambience is rather good-natured as cells open onto the main courtyard where some prisoners are allowed to go for walks freely.

"I favour the former regime. It is not a crime. Just like many other people, we were influenced by the mass media of Gaddafi," Othman Mokhtar, who is in his fifties, told AFP.

"It is true that I carried arms, but not to kill my Libyan brothers. I saw Africans holding arms to defend Gaddafi. I thought that I could do the same. It is my duty as a Libyan."

Mokhtar said he surrendered his weapon to the National Transitional Council on October 03.

"The next day, three [NTC] cars came and took me from home. I still do not know why," he added.

Next to Mokhtar stood 30-year-old Amer Salem, who said he was arrested as he left Bani Walid, which was one of Gaddafi’s last bastions, 170km southwest of Tripoli.

Human rights

"We fled Bani Walid when battles began in the city in September. I was driving my car with my wife and children. We passed checkpoints without a hitch, but I was intercepted 15km further on," he said.

"They drove me here after seizing my car and all the silver I had. In the beginning the guards beat us every day, but now things have improved a lot."

Ali Ayad, 26, was also arrested as he left Bani Walid.

"I have been in prison for 65 days. My family learned that I was still alive yesterday," he said.

Human rights organisations have called on Libya's new rulers to end arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of prisoners.

Hundreds of prisoners, including former regime officials, are still awaiting trial as the new regime is slow in creating a justice system.

Under its roadmap for the transition, the NTC announced on October 24 that it expects to appoint a transitional government within a month, followed eight months later by the election of a constituent assembly.

Sitting alone in the main courtyard under a gentle November sun, a former soldier said he has been in the prison since the fall of Tripoli in late August.

"I’ve not committed a crime"

"I was a soldier. It was my duty to obey orders and take my position. If I did not do that, my family would have been killed. I had no choice," he said, speaking on a condition of anonymity.

"Thank God I have not killed anybody. We are awaiting investigation. I have not committed a crime. I don't know why I'm here," said the father of four, adding that his family has visited him in jail several times.

His family received his monthly salary in August and September.

"I do not know if they got it in October," he said.

Like all other prisons in Libya, Al-Khandak is now run by volunteers.

"All of those who work here are volunteers," said prison official Abdelwahed Annaas.

"We run the prison through donations and personal effort. We are able to provide three meals a day for prisoners as well as medical aid."


Read more on:    ntc  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  libya protests

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


DA chatting up EFF ahead of elections

The DA in Gauteng is flirting with the Economic Freedom Fighters ahead of the elections, in what could end up as a coalition of strange bedfellows.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.