(incomplete rough draft)
<< The Sirte Massacres
A Seafront Find and a Sea Change
|Some of the massacre victims, bagged up.|
Photo: Peter Bouckaert/HRW (source)
Two factors at least set this case apart from most previous massacres. For one thing, the victims were recognizable Gaddafi loyalists, including some senior but little-known figures. There's no clear reason, to put it softly, that their besieged colleagues would want to off them amidst the brutal NTC onslaught.
That was also the case, however, for the Abu Salim trauma hospital, where around 75 bodies of executed patients and civilians were found in Tripoli. Black "African fighter" types, and at least one card-carrying special forces soldier, were killed in their beds, and a loyalist staff of a loyalist hospital just vanished, leaving only fine-spray blood spatters in their wake. At the time, nearly all of the dozens of journalists at the scene ignored these clues. It wasn't pinned on loyalists, just left hanging as a terrible mystery.
But that's not happening here. So we turn to the other factor, that Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi had been captured, brutalized, and executed by "former rebel" forces on October 20, four days prior to the announcement of this discovery. Sooner or later, the NTC would be the (relatively) unchallenged rulers of Libya, and due to the need for pressure points for external influence, would start being blamed for their own crimes. And if they become any trouble at all, perhaps for other peoples' crimes as well (see side-box below). Within four days of the leader's death, HRW was there to let us know the switch-over had happened, and it's time to start looking closer at what Libya's new rulers have been doing the last eight months and might be expected to do in the future. Whether this is by design or just "how things work out" doesn't effect the positive turn this shift will be for readership of this site.
Fifty-three people, apparent Gaddafi supporters, seem to have been executed at a hotel in Sirte last week, Human Rights Watch said today. The hotel is in an area of the city that was under the control of anti-Gaddafi fighters from Misrata before the killings took place.
“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.
Human Rights Watch saw the badly decomposed remains of the 53 people on October 23, 2011, at the Hotel Mahari in District 2 of Sirte. The bodies were clustered together, apparently where they had been killed, on the grass in the sea-view garden of the hotel.
Anti-Gaddafi fighters from Misrata had held that area of Sirte since early October, according to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch. On the entrance and walls of the hotel Human Rights Watch saw the names of several brigades from Misrata.
"The condition of the bodies suggests the victims were killed approximately one week prior to their discovery, between October 14 and October 19 [...] About 20 Sirte residents were putting the bodies in body bags and preparing them for burial when Human Rights Watch arrived at the hotel. They said they had discovered the bodies on October 21, after the fighting in Sirte had stopped and they returned to their neighborhood."
Human Rights Watch "called on Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to conduct an immediate and transparent investigation into the apparent mass execution and to bring those responsible to justice." Peter Bouckaert, the main investigator here, 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.”
Well, it's worked so far...
Seeing the name Ezzadin al-Hinshiri, “allegedly a former Gaddafi government official,” among the dead strikes a chord with me, in that I've run into him before in my research. He was (implicitly) accused by a strange little liar for being involved with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the “Lockerbie bombing” of 1988.
In February 1991, Swiss electronics maker and apparent CIA asset Edwin Bollier wrote to his “friend” Mr.Ezzadin Hinshiri, of the Libyan JSO (intel agency), about his work with investigators of the bombing.The letter was neither warning nor threat, just a friendly tip-off that the Libyans were in the process of being framed by someone, and to make sure they "wouldn't think that we had made up the story in order to accuse the Libyans,”as Bollier said at the 2000 trial.
Bollier mentioned therein a suitcase, which he says he was tricked into carrying to Libya shortly before the bombing. An intermediary brought him a brown suitcase full of “clothes for a friend" and “asked me to deliver the suitcase and its contents to Ezzadin's office in Tripoli.”
Among his shifting stories of what was and wasn't in the suitcase, which he peeked into, was "a blue children's suit" very like the “blue babygro” that became a crucial clue from the bomb bag, pointing to Malta, to Tony Gauci, and to "bomber" al Megrahi. Elsewhere, Bollier says he himself added the baby-suit, as a gift for the driver (Mr. Ali) who was to actually deliver the suitcase to Hinshiri.
He didn’t get blamed for Lockerbie, but its legacy underpins all that’s happened to Libya since. Now Ezzadin has died at the crescendo of the decades-long operation, just before his leader he was bound and shot in the head by CIA-backed, Islamic fanatic Libyan Contras.
The locals identified to Bouckaert four of the dead as two Sirte residents, Amar Mahmoud Saleh and Muftah al-Deley, a military officer named Muftah Dabroun, and one Ezzidin al-Hinsheri, according to HRW "allegedly a former Gaddafi government official." (indeed, by the name, he was - see box at right).
The other 49 remain publicly unknown. The story of their final hours will probably never be told truthfully, so in a way, they died alone like so many others have over the past eight months.
Implications for the Misrata Brigades:
Another Sub-Heading to Help Fill This Space
And more yet, later...
External images of pre-bagged dead:
One of these made into a clever poster that makes one yearn for more people power adventures in Syria and beyond: