- Film shows three men tying up blood-spattered man before whipping him with cables and touching him on his skin with electric wires
- Man, suspected by rebels of having supported Gaddafi, told: ‘Blood will come from your eyes and nose until you admit what you have done’
- Video handed to Mail on Sunday in Tripoli refugee camp
- Last updated at 12:37 AM on 12th February 2012c
The man being whipped with cables on the video was Saleh Barhoun Gersh, who had run a general store in Towerga – which was loyal to Gaddafi during the conflict until the town was ransacked by fighters from nearby Misrata. When the rebels arrived, Mr Gersh was so frightened he wore women’s clothes to disguise himself It is not clear when the footage was taken or what happened to Mr Gersh.
The men, one of whom is wearing combat trousers and is armed with a knife, tell the man that ‘blood will come from your eyes and nose until you admit what you have done’. In the film he cries out as he is whipped and is told: ‘You are from Towerga, you dog. You say you did nothing in Misrata, so why are you in disguise? We found weapons in every house in Towerga. Your hand is bleeding and we hope it is paralysed.’The new video images follow growing protests about abuse and torture in parts of the country.
Doctors from the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have pulled out after refusing to deal with the results of such brutality in their clinics.
According to sources, the youths in the video were former rebels who refused to surrender their weapons at the end of the civil war in October – and are intent on revenge on those they suspect of having supported Gaddafi. They are said to have driven in armed trucks into the al-Fellah ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in a suburb of Tripoli, firing at crowds and searching homes until they found men on their list of ‘suspects’.
Before Gaddafi was killed, the rebels had been under siege from his forces for weeks in Misrata – a port 150 miles east of Tripoli.Their victim, seen on the video, was Saleh Barhoun Gersh, who had run a general store in Towerga – which was loyal to Gaddafi during the conflict until the town was ransacked by fighters from nearby Misrata city.
Before Gaddafi was killed, the rebels had been under siege from his forces for weeks in Misrata – a port 150 miles east of Tripoli
Commander Mohamed al-Deaka said of the men carrying out the abuse: ‘Yes, it happens here, but it’s everywhere in Libya. We have to use force to make prisoners give answers. Our city was destroyed in the fighting. Now we want to know who carried out the destruction, who raped our women and stole our property’
The men chant as they reach for live electric wires: ‘Everyone we catch is innocent, they say.Well, blood will come from your eyes and nose until you admit what you have done. We’ve caught 60 of you so far and none of you did anything.’Camp manager Mohamed al-Mabruk, who handed over the footage, said: ‘The fighters from Misrata have kept their weapons and vowed to capture everyone who supported Gaddafi. ‘They come on regular raids to our three camps in Tripoli and take anyone they want. They beat them and torture them to get them to confess to rape and murder.’Locals said Towerga residents were known supporters of Gaddafi and are among 8,500 people believed to be held in secret camps all over the country.Mr al-Mabruk is helpless to stop the raids. He said: ‘You can do nothing against the Misrata militias.‘They come on regular raids to our three camps in Tripoli and take anyone they want. They beat them and torture them to get them to confess to rape and murder.’
Locals said Towerga residents were known supporters of Gaddafi and are among 8,500 people believed to be held in secret camps all over the country.Mr al-Mabruk is helpless to stop the raids. He said: ‘You can do nothing against the Misrata militias.’We are all terrified of them. The government, the police and the army cannot stop them.’Attacks are often filmed by the fighters for amusement to post on YouTube.The abuse of Mr Gersh was captured on a mobile phone left behind in the chaos of a raid. Libya’s interim government has admitted it is largely powerless to prevent this collapse of law and order. It comes at a time when doubts are being raised about Nato’s support for the uprising.
Britain spent about £300million on bombing raids to help secure the victory that ousted the Gaddafi regime four months ago But local militias are hell-bent on revenge against their former enemies. They also frequently clash with rival militias.Thousands of fighters have commandeered schools, halls and sports centres as detention facilities for ‘suspects’ they capture from their homes or the street. The Misrata brigades are considered the most hostile, with thousands of untrained youths carrying out the aggressive interrogation. In other footage collected by the camp manager, more than 30 armed trucks are shown on an early morning raid into the camp. Women scream that they are being attacked in their beds and that some family members are sick. ‘Is this the new revolution. Is this the justice we all fought for?’ they shout. Last month, 14 badly injured detainees were sent to Medecins Sans Frontieres doctors, three of them needing hospitalisation.
Claudia Evers, Misrata co-ordinator for MSF, said: ‘The militia refused to let us take them to hospital. We’ve reported two deaths. No action has been taken and our doctors refuse to continue. Amnesty International has documented thousands of cases of abuse and torture, and handed photographs to The Mail on Sunday. Senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera has protested to the National Transitional Council (NTC) without success.‘I have seen people who have been beaten with iron bars and rubber pipes, some hardly able to walk,’ she said.‘Men are hung by handcuffs from a door frame and attacked with electric wires. Tasers are applied to their ears and genitals, and finger and toenails are torn out.’ She has evidence of 12 deaths. No investigations have been carried out by the authorities. ‘There is not a single case where anyone has been brought to justice,’ she said. ‘There is a total lack of accountability.’
At al-Huda prison centre in Misrata, Sheikh Fathy Daraz heads an Islamic charity for inmates’ welfare. But he is at the mercy of the militia, who regularly take men away for questioning. ‘We see their bruises and their broken limbs when they return but we can do nothing,’ he said. ‘There is no effective police force or national army yet.’Nearby at the city’s al-Head sports centre, the tennis courts and gym were deserted. A group of 25 brigades have taken over. Commander Mohamed al-Deaka is a former construction engineer. He was defensive about abuse by his men. ‘Yes it happens here, but it’s everywhere in Libya,’ he said. ‘We have to use force to make prisoners give answers. Our city was destroyed in the fighting. Now we want to know who carried out the destruction, who raped our women and stole our property.’
Khaled Ben Ali, head of LibAid, an umbrella organisation for humanitarian agencies, said that NTC ministers told him they were powerless: ‘The Prime Minister told me he had issued written orders for the surrender of weapons and the militias tore them up. ‘They fought for freedom and now they think they are free to do what they like. What they like is revenge. There is no effective judicial system. Maybe we need the UN Security Council to find new ways of protecting our civilians.’