Mass killings in Libya, but this time Gaddafi’s not to blame

By Simon Allison 27 October 2011

A damning Human Rights Watch report into mass extrajudicial killings is sullying the good name of Libya’s revolutionaries, who, in their quest for revenge, seem to be committing one of Brother Leader’s favourite crimes. By SIMON ALLISON.

The corpses were badly decayed by the time Human Rights Watch got there, clustered together in the sea-facing garden of an abandoned hotel in Sirte. “We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gaddafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte, and some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. HRW was too diplomatic to make the connection explicitly, but pointedly noted that the hotel in question had been in the hands of anti-Gaddafi fighters since early October, and that the bodies were about a week old.

HRW called on the National Transitional Council to investigate the killings immediately, as well as another discovery, also in Sirte, of ten bodies of victims apparently executed.

Summary justice is proving to be a controversial issue in the wake of Gaddafi’s regime. The most high-profile suspected victim is thought to be Gaddafi himself, along with his son Mo’tasim, both of whom were described by some apparent witnesses as having been captured alive. After immense international pressure, their deaths are being investigated by the NTC.

In a separate report, HRW voiced its concerns that the NTC was not doing enough to secure the heavy weaponry around Sirte, with missiles and munitions unguarded in the area. “For months we have been warning the NTC and Nato about the dangers posed by these vast stockpiles of unguarded weapons, and the urgent need to secure them,” said Bouckaert. “Surface-to-air missiles can take down civilian aircraft, and the explosive weapons can be converted easily into the car bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that have killed thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan.” DM

Photo: A man inspects bodies of Gaddafi loyalists after an attack on their convoy near Sirte on 23 October. Reuters.


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