Ex-Libyan ambassador to France tortured to death, says human rights group

Human Rights Watch 2012

US-based Human Rights Watch says Libya's ex-ambassador to France, Omar Brebesh, died from possible torture less than 24 hours after he was taken into custody by a Tripoli-based militia on 19 January.


The organisation says a preliminary autopsy found the cause of death included multiple bodily injuries and fractured ribs.

"Photos of Brebesh's body, seen by Human Rights Watch, show welts, cuts and the apparent removal of toenails, indicating that he was tortured prior to death," the rights watchdog said in a statement.


HRW’s claims are backed-up by a report by the judicial police in Tripoli which also found that Brebesh had died from torture and that an unnamed suspect had confessed to killing him.

Brebesh, 62, served in the Libyan embassy to France from 2004 to 2008, first as cultural attaché and then as acting ambassador for the last nine months of his term.

He continued to work with the Libyan foreign ministry under Kadhafi's regime during last year's uprising and as a lawyer in the ministry under the post-Kadhafi transitional government.

Brebesh's son Ziad told the organisation the former ambassador had voluntarily submitted to an investigation by the Al-Shuhada Ashura militia in Tripoli.

On January 20 his family heard his body had appeared at a hospital in Zintan, about 100 kilometres southwest of the capital.

"I saw his face. There was blood on his nose and mouth. But I didn't see the rest of his body or his face from the other side," HRW quoted Brebesh's other son Mohammed as saying. "There was a bump on his forehead. After that, I kissed him and that was it. Later, when we saw the other side of his face at the hospital in Tripoli, it looked like his jaw was broken, like his face was not in the right place."

Militias made up of former rebels who fought Moamer Kadhafi's forces have been facing growing criticism from rights groups for allegedly torturing prisoners, most of whom are loyalists of the slain dictator.

On Thursday, Libyan Justice Minister Ali Hamida Ashur said the authorities would investigate all cases of torture in prisons and bring to justice those involved in it.

Libya currently has about 8,500 detainees in about 60 facilities, majority of which are run by militias, rights group say.



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