Libya 'must probe mass 'executions'

2011-10-24 13:04

Sirte - The discovery of 53 decaying bodies in Sirte, final bastion of Libya's ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, suggests some of his loyalists were executed, a rights group said.

"We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gaddafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte," said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who investigated the killings.

"Some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot," he added.

HRW's investigator found the bodies on Sunday at the Hotel Mahari in District 2 of Sirte, an "area of the city that was under the control of anti-Gaddafi fighters from Misrata before the killings took place".

"The bodies were clustered together, apparently where they had been killed, on the grass in the sea-view garden of the hotel," HRW said in a statement.

An AFP reporter at the weekend found 60 corpses on the lawn of the Al-Mahari hospital and noted that many of the victims had been killed execution-style, a bullet to the head. Some had been bound hand and foot.

NTC fighters told AFP at the time that the hospital had been used as a makeshift prison by Gaddafi’s men who, they charged, carried out the executions before abandoning the place.

Similar atrocities were carried out in Tripoli, with at least 50 charred skeletons, apparently prisoners executed by Gaddafi’s fleeing forces, being found after the capital fell to National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters late August.

Human Rights Watch said the Sirte killings likely took place a week before the bodies were discovered.

Trend of killings

Citing testimony from Sirte residents who played a role in burying and identifying the dead, it concluded that "most" of those killed were likely to be residents of the Mediterranean city and "some" of them Gaddafi supporters.

The watchdog implicated several brigades from Misrata, Libya's third city, who "apparently" held the hotel from before the time of the killings until October 20 when the fighting stopped.

Graffiti on the walls showed the names of five Misrata-based groups, it said.

"If the NTC fails to investigate this crime it will signal that those who fought against Gaddafi can do anything without fear of prosecution."

HRW said that at a separate site in Sirte the decaying bodies of 10 people, also seemingly executed, were found near a water reservoir but the rights group was unable to determine their identities.

"Medical officials in Sirte told Human Rights Watch that pro-Gaddafi forces had carried out executions in the city," the New-York based watchdog said.

The allegations of executions carried out by fighters who took part in the NTC's offensive in Sirte come just days after the unexplained deaths of Libya's ex-leader and his son Mutassim Gaddafi in custody of Misrata fighters.

HRW said it also found the "remains of at least 95 people" who apparently died the day Gaddafi was captured and that at least six of the dead appeared "to have been executed at the site with gunshot wounds to the head and body".

"This latest massacre seems part of a trend of killings, looting, and other abuses committed by armed anti-Gaddafi fighters who consider themselves above the law," Bouckaert said.

"It is imperative that the transitional authorities take action to rein in these groups."

  • Right - 2011-10-24 13:40

    They should find alot of the SA Mercenaries amongst those 53 bodies.

  • Ari - 2011-10-24 14:35

    The so-called "rebels" are themselves composed mainly of mercenaries - including Al Qaeda leaders. In particular, we have Abdelhakim Belhaj, aka Abu Abdallah al-Sadek, who is a Libyan jihadi. Every intelligence agency in the US, Europe and the Arab world knows where he's coming from. He's already made sure in Libya that himself and his militia will only settle for sharia law.

  • Nebul - 2011-10-24 14:38

    I know that this may sound corny, but please bear with me... These Rebels have basically been fighting a war. I'm not too sure if they have had any kind of formal training, if any at all! How do they deal with being normal civilians to be asked to kill? At the beginning of the uprising, I never thought they stood any chance against the "Colonel" The frenzy could have been at bit overwhelming but I'm not condoning atrocities but merely trying to understand their circumstances.

  • Bill - 2011-10-24 15:44

    Oh boy, sharia law...! That mens a man can have up to 4 wives legally....Yippee, I'm of to Libya...!

  • Alan - 2011-10-24 17:55

    One horrible chapter closed for Libya. The next horrible one is about to commence.

      Barry - 2011-10-24 19:23

      @ Alan..I agree. The worst is yet to come. It is such as shame for a country that has a population so literate and educated. The USA and NATO are going to leave the country now with OIL contacts in hand.

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