Hammerl: The sequence of events

2011-06-25 00:00

THE sequence of events leading up to the day Hammerl was officially announced dead:

n Hammerl went to Libya on March 28 to cover the crisis as a freelancer.

n On the evening of Monday, April 4, Hammerl Skyped his family saying he would be driving with a group of journalists to a rural location that was fairly distant from the Benghazi base.

n They didn’t hear from him again. On the Thursday morning (April 7) the family learned from Human Rights Watch in Geneva that colleagues on the ground believed Hammerl had been captured by Gaddafi loyalists with three other journalists — Americans Clare Gillis and James Foley and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo.

n Penny Sukhraj, Hammerl’s wife, called South African consular officials. They said they would pass the information to officials in South Africa who would deal with the matter, since their Tripoli staff were no longer in situ.

n According to Human Rights Watch, the Libyan authorities said the journalists would be taken to Tripoli and released.

n A senior consular official in South Africa said they would do everything they could to secure a release, but that things were difficult on the ground with no staff.

n He said that staff from the Turkish embassy in Tripoli would facilitate negotiations as they were acting on behalf of the U.S. government.

n By Saturday, April 9, the official informed the family of President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Libya, and it was hinted that there might be an opportunity to raise the matter of Hammerl’s detention with the Libyan government.

n On the Tuesday the family was told the matter hadn’t been raised by Zuma’s delegation

n On the Wednesday the consular official reported that the matter was being dealt with at the highest level, and by South African consular staff.

n The next day the consular official reported that there was no change.

n The family understood the South African government was working closely with the U.S., Spanish and Austrian governments (since Hammerl also holds Austrian citizenship) to secure his and the other journalists release.

n The other three journalists had been each allowed a call to their families, but Hammerl’s family had yet to hear from him.

n There was speculation that Hammerl was being held separately from the other journalists.

n The United Nations added the plight of foreign journalists in detention in Libya to its list of priorities for investigations into human rights abuses.

n Nothing more happened until journalists Gillis, Foley and Brabo were released from captivity on May 18 and told how Anton was shot in the desert

n On May 19 the family was told by the SA Human Rights Commission that Anton had died. It became clear that he had been shot on April 5.

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