Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work. Summary and recommendations: photo feature. The escape attempt was doomed: as the heavily armed convoy of Gaddafi loyalists sought to flee the besieged District 2 of Sirte, a NATO drone-fired missile hit it, destroying one vehicle, witnesses said.
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Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work. Summary and recommendations: photo feature. The escape attempt was doomed: as the heavily armed convoy of Gaddafi loyalists sought to flee the besieged District 2 of Sirte, a NATO drone-fired missile hit it, destroying one vehicle, witnesses said. After traveling a few more hundred meters westward, the rest of the convoy came upon a Misrata-based militia and was then struck by airburst bombs fired from a NATO warplane, which incinerated dozens of Gaddafi fighters.
While some of the survivors of the NATO attack engaged in a skirmish with the Misrata militiamen, Muammar Gaddafi and other survivors from the convoy fled to a nearby walled villa compound, and soon thereafter tried to escape through the fields and two drainage pipes underneath a major road nearby.
That is where the Misrata militias caught them. This report presents evidence that Misrata-based militias, after capturing and disarming members of the Gaddafi convoy and bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings before apparently executing dozens of them. Seven months later, Libyan authorities have neither investigated nor held accountable those who committed these crimes.
Muammar Gaddafi was immediately set upon by Misrata fighters who wounded him with a bayonet in his buttocks, and then began pummeling him with kicks and blows. By the time Muammar Gaddafi was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Misrata, his body appeared lifeless: it remains unclear whether he died from this violence, the shrapnel wounds, or from being shot later, as some have claimed.
Video footage taken shortly after his capture shows Mutassim conscious and able to walk, but with small shrapnel wounds in his upper chest. Video footage taken later on October 20 shows him talking in a room with Misrata fighters from the Lions of the Valley militia, drinking water and smoking cigarettes. By the afternoon of the same day, he was dead, with new major wounds that suggest he was killed in custody.
When the final battle ended, more than members of the convoy were dead at the scene. While the majority died in fighting and NATO strikes on the convoy, at least some were apparently shot dead after anti-Gaddafi militias sweeping the area in the aftermath of the fighting found them alive and captured them.
Anti-Gaddafi forces captured alive an estimated persons after the battle. They transported some 70 of these survivors to Misrata and held them there in custody, but at least 53 and possibly as many as 66 people were found dead the next day at the nearby Mahari Hotel.
Amateur video footage recorded by a Misrata fighter shows 29 of the detained persons being beaten, slapped, insulted and spat upon by their captors, at the place of their capture. Six of the twenty-nine in the video have been identified by Human Rights Watch as being among the bodies photographed later on the grounds of the Mahari Hotel, and hospital staff in Sirte confirmed a match for an additional seven men seen on the video and those found at the hotel.
Five other bodies at the hotel were identified by relatives and friends. These killings apparently comprise the largest documented execution of detainees committed by anti-Gaddafi forces during the eight-month conflict in Libya. The execution of persons in custody is a war crime. Human Rights Watch calls upon the Libyan authorities to take immediate steps to investigate and prosecute the killings in Sirte, and calls upon the international community to insist on accountability for these crimes, and to offer technical assistance in conducting the investigation.
As part of ongoing UN Security Council-mandated jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by all sides to the conflict in Libya, the ICC prosecutor should:. In February , peaceful pro-democracy protests broke out in Libya, and were quickly and violently repressed by Libyan government forces, leading to hundreds of deaths.
France, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and possibly other governments provided weapons and training to opposition forces, and Qatar later acknowledged that it had deployed hundreds of its own forces on the ground.
Between February and August , when Tripoli fell, pro-Gaddafi forces committed serious violations of human rights law and the laws of war. They detained thousands without charge, and often subjected them to torture and mistreatment in detention.
Opposition forces also committed human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war, including some extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and torture against detainees,  revenge attacks against towns that were seen as supportive of Gaddafi,  and widespread attacks against Sub-Saharan African migrant workers they accused of being mercenaries for Gaddafi.
Hundreds of individual militias sprung up to fight against Gaddafi, organized around informal networks such as individual towns, companies, schools, former military units in the case of defectors , or religious institutions to which members of the militia belonged.
The city of Misrata, and its militias, had a unique experience and profile during the conflict. Gaddafi forces subjected Misrata to a two-month siege in the spring of that year, with near-daily shelling that caused hundreds of civilian deaths while preventing humanitarian and medical aid from reaching the city.
Some of the militias from Misrata have also earned a reputation for brutality since overcoming the siege of Misrata. Most visibly, militias from Misrata continue as of this writing to prevent about 30, people from returning to their homes in Tawergha, a town south of Misrata, because they accuse them of having committed atrocities against the people of Misrata, in collaboration with Gaddafi forces. Displaced Tawerghans have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture in detention, in some cases leading to death.
The abusive behavior of some Misrata-based militias has caused a strong reaction from Benghazi-based militias that are under the more direct control of the NTC which first established itself in Benghazi , who saw the abuses committed by some Misrata-based militias as undermining the legitimacy of their revolution and of the NTC.
Following the attacks by Misrata militias against displaced Tawerghans, Benghazi militias intervened and brought thousands of displaced Tawerghans to a camp nearby Benghazi, where they could be more easily protected.
The final battle documented in this report took place in the area controlled by Misrata-based militias. Muammar Gaddafi fled directly into the midst of fighters from that city, which his forces had victimized during the war. The events that followed, often captured on video by the Misrata militiamen themselves, make it clear that the fighters from Misrata extracted a bloody revenge.
Reconstructing Muammar Gaddafi's final days is difficult, as he was surrounded by a small circle of trusted confidants and bodyguards, most of whom were killed in the attempted escape from Sirte, as documented in this report. However, one close confidant of Gaddafi who spent those days in his company did survive the escape attempt, and was captured alive by one of the Misrata militias: Mansour Dhao, a loyal senior security official and the head of the People's Guard.
Human Rights Watch and the New York Times located him in a detention facility in Misrata two days after the fighting that left Muammar Gaddafi dead, and were allowed to interview him at length in a private setting. Dhao offered a detailed account of Muammar Gaddafi's desperate final days, which is set out below.
While Human Rights Watch cannot independently confirm the details of events offered by Dhao, they are consistent with the accounts of other survivors who lived through the same experience in District Two, but were not in direct contact with Muammar Gaddafi.
Muammar Gaddafi and his closest associates remained in the capital Tripoli until the fall of the city to the armed opposition on August 28, , when they fled from Tripoli in different convoys and to various different destinations.
Muammar Gaddafi fled to Sirte, where he was joined by Mansour Dhao. He did not return to Sirte. Muammar Gaddafi and his senior associates originally stayed in the center of Sirte, but as the fighting and shelling of the city intensified, they were forced to constantly move houses.
Dhao described the increasingly desperate circumstances the group found itself in as the militia fighters closed in on them:. Towards the end, the once all-powerful leader was sleeping in abandoned homes, scrounging for food, and simmering with anger over the steady deterioration of his situation, according to Dhao. Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle, and the remaining fighters around Mutassim Gaddafi were not the only people remaining in District Two, the final residential area under loyalist control as militia forces closed in.
Wounded loyalists and other patients had also been moved from the main Ibn Sina hospital to an ad hoc field clinic inside District Two as the hospital came under the control of the militias, and some civilians had also chosen not to leave their homes despite the fierce fighting, although most were young, fighting-age men, with very few women or children remaining during the final days of the battle.
During the night from October 19 to October 20, a Human Rights Watch team observed intensive and continuous bombardment of District Two by Grad missiles and artillery, lasting until the early morning, when militia commanders informed the Human Rights Watch team that a convoy of loyalist vehicles was trying to break out of District Two and escape the city.
According to Human Rights Watch interviews with surviving members of the convoy, Mutassim Gaddafi had decided that their situation had become unsustainable, and organized for the remaining loyalists in District Two to gather at the ad hoc clinic and attempt to flee the besieged district during the early morning hours of October 20, accompanied by the wounded from the clinic as well as the civilians who had remained. Most of the vehicles in the convoy were 4-by-4 pickups, heavily loaded with munitions and weaponry, and often with mounted machine or anti-aircraft guns.
Human Rights Watch found no indication that the Gaddafi combatants used the wounded or remaining civilians as human shields to prevent themselves from being attacked during their flight from District Two. The non-combatants who fled District Two with the convoy interviewed by Human Rights Watch all said they did so voluntarily and without coercion, although not all of them appeared to have been aware at the time that Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle would be traveling in the convoy.
The cumbersome convoy of Gaddafi loyalists, wounded, and civilians first attempted to sneak their way westward along the coast, traveling inside abandoned residential neighborhoods, but soon ran into militia forces who tried to stop the convoy.
Unable to continue down the main road, the convoy again tried turning off into neighboring dirt roads west of the main road to escape the overflying warplanes and drones, and the militia fighters attempting to stop them. There was no escape: the convoy ran right into the base of another Misrata militia, and found itself trapped, with war planes flying overhead.
As the convoy got pinned down and fought with militia fighters, NATO fighter jets, operating under NATO, bombed it with two low-altitude airburst GBU pound bombs,  spraying the vehicles and their occupants with shrapnel.
The bombs and the secondary explosions caused by the explosion of munitions that had been loaded on the vehicles killed many of the occupants of the vehicles, incinerating those who were inside the vehicles near the center of the blast. Following the NATO bombing strike on the convoy, the survivors scattered. Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle, all of whom survived, took shelter in a nearby abandoned villa compound, but came under heavy fire from the militia fighters nearby, who fired on the villa with anti-aircraft guns and mortars.
Muammar Gaddafi, accompanied by Mansour Dhao, Abu Bakr Younis, the two sons of Abu Bakr Younis, and about six or seven bodyguards ran across an open field, and crawled through the drainage pipe towards the opposite western side of the north-south road.
When they emerged at the opposite side, they were spotted almost immediately by the militia fighters. As Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle sheltered at the end of the drainage pipes, his bodyguards battled the militiamen above them on the road. As the militia fighters reached the part of the road above the drainage pipe, one of the bodyguards threw several grenades at the militiamen located right above them.
Abu Bakr Younis, who was wearing a flak jacket and helmet, died at the scene from shrapnel injuries, according to his two sons and video evidence reviewed by Human Rights Watch.
Following the grenade explosion, groups of militia fighters immediately descended from the main road and captured the badly bleeding Muammar Gaddafi. The presence of Muammar Gaddafi in the fleeing convoy surprised the militia fighters, who, like most people in Sirte at the time, including a Human Rights Watch team, had no inkling that he had been present in Sirte until the moment of his capture. As soon as the militia fighters had custody of Gaddafi, they began abusing him. Blood was already gushing from the shrapnel wound in his head.
As he was being led onto the main road, a militiaman stabbed him in his anus with what appears to have been a bayonet, causing another rapidly bleeding wound. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Khalid Ahmed Raid, the commander of the Eastern Coast militia brigade of Misrata, which was based near the scene of the battle and capture, acknowledged that the situation with Muammar Gaddafi was out of control:.
The militiamen ultimately put Muammar Gaddafi into an ambulance, and drove him away from the scene to Misrata in a massive convoy. There, his body was displayed to the public. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear: some militia fighters from Benghazi claim to have shot Gaddafi dead during a dispute with Misrata fighters about where to take him, but their claims remain unconfirmed.
A Human Rights Watch team which visited the scene of the battle the day after the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi counted and photographed the bodies. The bodies were left at the scene of the battle until October 25, when they were collected by volunteers from the city of Sirte and buried in plastic body bags in a common grave. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, no Libyan investigators visited the scenes of the incidents described in this report at the time, or since then, to analyze the information at the scene, and determine if any summary executions or other crimes were committed.
The bodies were scattered over a large area comprising an electrical power relay station, several walled villas, an open field, the two sides of the drainage pipes where Gaddafi and his inner circle were captured, and a water treatment plant several hundred meters away. While the majority of the bodies appear to have been killed in the fierce fighting and NATO bombing that preceded the capture of Gaddafi, as evidenced from the severe shrapnel and blast injuries they suffered, at least some of the men appear to have been summarily executed after the fighting.
In one video clip showing Gaddafi in the custody of militia fighters at the drainage pipes just moment after his capture, a dazed but alive young man with his right leg in a cast can be seen sitting down on the ground behind Muammar Gaddafi and his captors, appearing virtually unharmed, with his hands raised in a gesture of surrender. As the phone camera pans away from the young man and focuses on Gaddafi and his captors, several short bursts of machine gun fire can be heard in the background.
In a second video clip apparently filmed just moments later, a group of men captured from the convoy are filmed on the main road above the culvert with the drainage pipes being brutally beaten by militiamen, and the phone camera then pans down to show the same young man with the cast on his leg lying lifelessly among the bodies of several dead Gaddafi loyalists, with blood still flowing from his wounds. While the actual moment of his killing was not caught on camera, the two video clips taken together strongly suggest that he was shot dead by militia fighters in the moments immediately after his capture, as there do not appear to be any exchanges of gunfire taking place at the time the videos were recorded.
A Human Rights Watch inspection of his body the day after the killing found that he had been shot in the chest and the upper right leg. The NATO airstrike on the convoy appeared to have killed at least half of them. But determining the cause of death of the remaining 50 bodies at the scene is now very difficult given the passage of time and certainly impossible without a full forensic investigation.
However, in addition to the apparent execution of the young man with the cast on his left leg described above, Human Rights Watch found several additional clusters of bodies of persons who appear to have been executed rather than killed in combat. At the two walled villa compounds where Gaddafi and his inner circle briefly sought refuge, Human Rights Watch researchers found the bodies of six men, five of them apparently killed with gunshots, in circumstances that point to executions.
Human Rights Watch cannot exclude the possibility that these men were killed in crossfire, committed suicide, or were killed by Gaddafi loyalists, but the circumstances are suspicious enough to require further investigation. Two of the bodies were found outside the compound, both with gunshot wounds to the head.
The previously treated and bandaged extensive wounds on one of the bodies indicated it was unlikely he was mobile at the time of his killing, and it appeared that both men had been fired upon and killed as they lay on the ground in the blankets they have been carried on.
Inside the villa, the body of a fifth person was found, an older man with a single gunshot wound to the forehead. At the second villa, which had been briefly used by Gaddafi and his inner circle, the body of a sixth man was found with a large gunshot wound to his head, but the circumstances of his death were less clear.
Libyan militia 'executed 67 detainees'
Beirut, October 17, — New evidence collected by Human Rights Watch implicates Misrata-based militias in the apparent execution of dozens of detainees following the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi one year ago, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture. Among the most powerful new evidence is a mobile phone video clip filmed by opposition militia members that shows a large group of captured convoy members in detention, being cursed at and abused.
Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte (October 2012)
It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. AllAfrica publishes around reports a day from more than news organizations and over other institutions and individuals , representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct. Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.
#Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte
Militia forces from the Libyan city of Misrata executed dozens of detainees following the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi a year ago this week, according to a new report from the group Human Rights Watch. Almost 70 members of the former Libyan dictator's convoy were abused and executed after Gaddafi's own capture and death in the city of Sirte last October, the human rights group alleges. The report — Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte — details Gaddafi's final hours and includes evidence that appears to prove captured pro-Gaddafi fighters caught attempting to leave the city, including Gaddafi's son Mutassim, were murdered. Mutassim was allegedly killed after being taken to Misrata, which suffered a months-long siege by pro-government troops.