A video apparently showing the torture of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son during interrogation in prison has been condemned by both HRW, and his legal representative, who told RT that the Gaddafi name alone is enough to guarantee “maximum sentence and maximum mistreatment.”
The undated video, recently released by Arabic Clear News outlet shows a group of men ill-treating several inmates and interrogating a captive who strongly resembles al-Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of the deceased Colonel who ruled the country for almost 40 years.
“It does appear to be Saadi Gaddafi,” Melinda Taylor, an international criminal court defense lawyer for Saadi Gaddafi told RT. “He looks the same in sense [that] his head … [had been] shaved which happened to him last year.”
The footage shows the blindfolded man being forced to listen to the screams of at least two other inmates allegedly being tortured by the guards in the next room. Then he is made to watch them being beaten. No legal team is present during the“questioning.”
“It appears to be criminal treatment in the sense of it being severe physical treatment and also psychological in the sense that he is being forced to listen to other people apparently being tortured,” Taylor said. She called the footage evidence of an“international crime, crime of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment.”
In the last part of the clip, the interrogator asks Gaddafi to choose between being beaten on his feet or on his buttocks. Gaddafi responds, “What kind of a question is this? My feet.”
The interrogators proceed to beat the soles of his feet, tied to a medal device as the prisoner lies on his back, and causing him to scream from pain.
At one point Gaddafi asks for a rest telling his captors that he will cooperate. “Don’t. I will tell you all the information you want,” the man, who is yet to be verified as being Gaddafi, says in the video. At one point in the video Gaddafi tries to reason with the interrogators to stop the abuse.
Taylor, says that Gaddafi’s torture is the result of the fact that he is being held by militia in a war torn country that has seen a tremendous power vacuum and chaos following the 2011 NATO-led intervention. Al-Hadba prison is currently under the control of militia loyal to former deputy defense minister and the Libya Dawn militia coalition which opposes the internationally recognized Libyan government.
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There is no effective protection for Saadi as long as he remains in the control of the militia which allows this type of torture and mistreatment to occur with impunity,” Taylor told RT.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) meanwhile called on Libyan authorities at the al-Hadba facility in Tripoli to “immediately investigate” the apparent ill-treatment of detainees, as it called to suspend the guards involved in the “questioning.”
“The graphic video that seems to show prisoners being beaten raises serious concerns about the methods used to interrogate al-Saadi Gaddafi and other detainees at al-Hadba prison,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “No exceptional circumstances justify torture or other ill-treatment.”
Meanwhile, Libya’s state prosecutor has started an investigation and is seeking to identify the guards in the video.
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Saadi Gaddafi is being kept in pretrial detention after extradition from Niger to Libya in March 2014. He is facing charges over the alleged killing of a football player at the time of his heading the Libyan Football Federation, as well as other crimes associated with his paternal links.
After his extradition to Libya, the country’s TV stations aired a series of videos showing 42 year-old Gaddafi confessing to crimes, and apologizing for any “destabilization” he may have caused, including his work against the country’s political system.
The release of the video follows last week’s verdict in the cases of 32 former Gaddafi officials, nine of whom were sentenced to death, including another son of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The remaining 23 former officials received between five years and life in prison.
“The trial was plagued by persistent, credible allegations of fair trial breaches that warrant independent and impartial judicial review Tripoli’s Court of Assize, including lack of meaningful access to a lawyer and allegations of ill treatment,” Human Rights Watch said.
Taylor who now represents Colonel Gaddafi’s third son said the 42-year-old will likely receive the same verdict as his brother, despite the fact that the International Criminal Court has a mandate over war crimes committed in Libya since February 15, 2011.
“The mere fact that Saadi has a Gaddafi name will mean that he will be subjected to the same treatment,” Taylor told RT, calling it a “collective punishment.”
“Saadi being in al-Hadba subjects him both to the maximum sentence and to the maximum mistreatment,” the lawyer added.