53 Gaddafi supporters found executed in Sirte

October 25th, 2011 - 12:38 am ICT by BNO News  

SIRTE (BNO NEWS) — The bodies of more than 50 people who are believed to have been supporters of ousted Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi were found at a hotel in Sirte last week, Human Rights Watch reported on Monday.

The 53 decomposing bodies were found in the garden of the Mahari Hotel in Sirte on Friday, a day after Gaddafi was captured near Sirte and eventually killed. But the decomposing state of the bodies indicates the group was killed about a week earlier, between October 14 and October 19.

“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, who investigated the killings. “This requires the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities to investigate what happened and hold accountable those responsible.”

Human Rights Watch saw the remains on Sunday when nearly two dozen residents were putting the bodies in body bags and preparing them for burial. The investigators said the bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, and the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot at the location.

At least some of those killed were known Gaddafi supporters. One of them was Gaddafi government official Ezzidin al-Hinsheri while another was identified as military officer Muftah Dabroun. Most of those killed were believed to be residents of Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown.

Human Rights Watch said the hotel had been in the hands of anti-Gaddafi fighters since before the killing until fighting stopped on Thursday. “The evidence suggests that some of the victims were shot while being held as prisoners, when that part of Sirte was controlled by anti-Gaddafi brigades who appear to act outside the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC),” Bouckaert said. “If the NTC fails to investigate this crime it will signal that those who fought against Gaddafi can do anything without fear of prosecution.”

He added: “This latest massacre seems part of a trend of killings, looting, and other abuses committed by armed anti-Gaddafi fighters who consider themselves above the law. It is imperative that the transitional authorities take action to rein in these groups.”

Meanwhile, at a different site in Sirte, Human Rights Watch saw the badly decomposed bodies of 10 people who had apparently also been executed. Their identities are unknown and Human Rights Watch was unable to determine whether anti-Gaddafi or pro-Gaddafi forces were responsible, although medical officials in Sirte said pro-Gaddafi forces had also carried out executions.

Libya has been engulfed in a civil war since an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began in mid-February, while pro-Gaddafi forces were accused of violently cracking down on anti-government protesters. It led to UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorized member states to impose a no-fly zone over the North African country and to take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians, including airstrikes.

Gaddafi was captured on Thursday morning by fighters supporting Libya’s transitional government as he tried to flee his hometown Sirte. He was eventually shot dead but it remains unclear whether he was executed by his captors or if he was killed during fighting between pro-Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces.

On Saturday, a review of newly released video showed how an unidentified man sodomized Gaddafi with an object before he was eventually killed. The video was released by the website the Global Post, which obtained the footage from rebel fighters.

It is believed more than 25,000 people have been killed during the civil war.

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