Libya inmates tell of torture

Jan. 28, 2012 at 2:58 PM
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MISURATA, Libya, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Prisoners who had supported former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi said they were tortured while in detention.

The inmates at a prison in Misurata told the BBC they endured prolonged beatings, whippings with electric cables and electric shocks.

They said the torture occurred not at the prison but while they were detained.

"I was taken for questioning at a site used by the national army," said one male inmate who requested anonymity. "My leg was already in a state when they took me away. As they interrogated me they kept on beating me on my leg and so it got even more swollen."

Other prisoners said the abuse happened before they arrived at the prison.

The British broadcaster's report Saturday came days after Doctors Without Borders said it was suspending its work at the Misurata prison because of what the BBC called an "alarming rise" in torture cases.

The head of Misurata's military council, Ibrahim Beitelmal, denied involvement in any abuse.

"I think that the people working under the guise of human rights organizations or Doctors Without Borders are Gadhafi's fifth column," Beitelmal said. "There may have been a few cases of former rebels taking revenge but that doesn't mean that the orders have come from my office to torture prisoners."

Those operating the Misurata prison told the BBC they knew of inmates taken away to be tortured but could not stop it.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations human rights chief, has called for the transitional government in Libya to assume control of all prisons.

About three months after Gadhafi was killed by former rebels, the BBC said, many detention centers are controlled by militias unaccountable to the government.

A spokesman for London-based Amnesty International said, "The torture is being carried out by officially recognized military and security entities as well as by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework."

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