Friday, July 1, 2016

Amnesty International claims 12 released prisoners in Libya who were murdered had been killed in jail

Amnesty International claims Ali Al-Saadi, the head of the Ruwaimi prison in Tripoli, lied when he reported last week that 12 former Gadaffi-era soldiers had been released to their families' care and had left the prison with them.

Although, the Amnesty statement did not mention Al-Saadi by name, they claimed the prisoners were never handed over to their families. There are competing narratives about what happened, with an earlier article in the Libya Observer reporting that the soldiers were handed over to their families and the bodies were found in various locations the following day. Descriptions of the bodies vary as well with some saying that there were marks of torture but more recent reports denying this. Even the head of the Investigations Bureau of the General Prosecutor's office claimed that those murdered had been released and their bodies found the next day:
The Head of Investigations Bureau at the General Prosecutor’s office, Al-Saddiq Al-Soor, confirmed that 12 inmates were murdered on Friday dawn after being released Thursday from Al-Ruwaimi prison, which is located in Ain Zara in the suburbs of the capital, Tripoli.
.After the announcement of the release of the prisoners, the families were contacted and advised to produce the passport of the detained relatives so as to process their release. This was noted also in earlier reports, however according to Amnesty International one family member alleged that the detaining authorities opposed their release, saying the authorities were not happy with the decision and so made sure the prisoners did not leave the prison alive.
In contrast to earlier accounts, the Amnesty report said that the bodies were riddled with bullets but there was no verifiable signs of torture or that the men's feet and hands had been tied. Earlier reports also indicated that they all had been shot, but some of the family members said that there were sign of torture. It is a bit strange that Amnesty cites only one family member as saying that the prisoners were not released to the families. Amnesty suggests that the prisoners were not restrained at the time they were shot and perhaps were unaware of what was to happen. Amnesty noted that it had documented torture and ill-treatment in several centers under the control of militia and this included the Ruwaimi prison.
Amnesty pointed out that no meaningful prosecutions had been carried out leading to prosecution into any alleged crimes with successive governments in Libya or since the end of the revolution. Amnesty admitted that it still was not possible to know exactly what happened but that Ruwaimi prison authorities and the interior ministry had "gravely failed in their obligation of due diligence to protect the right to life and physical integrity of the detainees". The response to these murders will be a test for the UN-brokered Government of National Accord which appears unable to control the many militias and upon which it depends so far for its own security.
The UN-back government immediately condemned the murders as indicated in this tweet: "UN-backed gov condemns the murder of Gaddafi officials who were released last week from al-Ruwaimi prison." Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) immediately called for an investigation into the murders of the 12 men. Kobler said that he was "utterly shocked by the vile crime". Not only does there seem to be little security provided by the new GNA but there are severe power outages in Tripoli. There still is a cash shortage and Tripoli is now experiencing a water shortage as well. The situation is even worse in cities such as Sebha in the south where there are violent demonstrations. Many electrical pylons have been sabotaged so there is no electricity at all..

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