Gaddafi forces killed prisoners, says Amnesty

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 26, 2011 11:25 AM
Gaddafi forces killed prisoners, says Amnesty

LONDON (Reuters) - Amnesty International said on Friday it had uncovered evidence that forces loyal to deposed Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi killed several detainees being held at two camps in Tripoli.

It said eyewitness testimony from escaped prisoners described how loyalist troops used grenades and gunfire on scores of detainees at one camp this week, while guards at the other shot dead five people being held in solitary confinement.

"Loyalist forces in Libya must immediately stop such killings of captives, and both sides must commit to ensuring no harm comes to prisoners in their custody," Amnesty said in a statement.

"Even as Colonel Gaddafi is cornered, with an International Criminal Court warrant active for his arrest on charges of crimes against humanity, his troops continue their flagrant disregard for human life and international humanitarian law."

Amnesty noted that it is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill or torture prisoners.

It said the first incident took place Tuesday at a military camp in Khilit al-Ferjan in southwestern Tripoli when some 160 detainees began to flee after guards told them the gates were unlocked.

"As the detainees barged through the hangar gates, two other guards opened fire and threw five hand grenades at the group," Amnesty said.

It was unclear how many survived, it added, but at least 23 detainees managed to escape, including four who received medical treatment at a Tripoli hospital.

The second incident took place five km (three miles) away at Qasr Ben Ghashir military camp Wednesday when loyalist guards shot dead five prisoners being held in solitary confinement.

Former detainees later told Amnesty they had heard guards opening five of the cells before gunshots were fired shortly afterwards.

"Detainees panicked and broke out of their cells fearing they were about to be executed. By the time they got out, the five guards on duty had fled the scene, leaving behind the five victims' bodies," the Amnesty statement said.

Both camps were reportedly used by the Khamis Katiba brigade, headed by Khamis Gaddafi, a son of the fallen leader, it added.