last edits Nov. 2
<< The Sirte Massacres
The corpses we'll be considering here have already been blogged on in a separate post that will now have to be split up. The eight bound and executed bodies (out of ten) filmed by Danish Channel 2 Nyhederne and photographed by Tracey Shelton for Global Post on October 12 will be covered here.
They were killed there by Gaddafi loyalists, it was said, some days before the rebels found them, apparenly on taking the area on the 11th. But by rebel-claims-based graphics, the area in question was under rebel control at least two days by then, and possibly for more than a week. Therefore, the NTC ("former rebel") forces, as usual, seem to have been in charge when these cruel and illegal executions occurred. Plus all but one of the seven bodies with skin we can see are of black men.
But for the moment, we can leave even the authorship in doubt. I have the bodies at a location identified in satellite imagery (thanks to a reader), at what I thought was Mutassim Gaddafi's compound. It could still be so, I'm not sure. But they seem to be the same bodies referred to in this al Arabiyah report as the 11 bodies (ten by Channel2's count) reported as found in the "Dollar neighborhood," or Hay al-Dollar. That I thought was the built up neighborhood a kilometer east of the rural-looking spot in question, but close enough.
For reference, here again are the seven bodies of the main pile against the wall, as filmed by Channel 2 on the 12th. There were an additional three bodies we hear, but only saw one, behind that wall. None of these seem to have been run over or burnt, making the connection less than clear. Make special note of the black man at the southeast corner of the pile (right).Libya’s National Transitional Council said on Friday [Oct. 11] that it had discovered 11 unidentified bodies, some burnt and some that had been run over by vehicles.
The corpses, believed to have been killed by forces loyal to former leader Muammar Qaddafi, were found face down and piled up, in an area in Sirte known as “Dollar Neighborhood”. NTC fighters said they found more bodies in a similar state in other parts of Sirte...
Looking again, and taking a better screen grab, indeed the scene has been altered. The bodies seem blacker all-in-all, and it's partly from the addition of a black fluid running into the dirt.
That's quite strange. Decomposition-related? We can't tell from this, but we'll come back to it.
On Running Over of Victims
The claim that some of the bodies were run over is unusual. There are many ways this could happen in a war zone, but the imagination at least brings to mind some practices of the rebel forces's sponsors in the Persian Gulf. It's Qatar and al Jazeera that proved so eager to support Libya's revolutionaries in every way imaginable, Bahrain who ruthlessly crushed their own rebels (with Qatar's silent complicity), and Saudi Arabia who sent in mercenaries to help.
But it's the United Arab Emirates who had produced Sheikh Issa bin Zayed, famous for the 2009 revelation of his sickening abuse of a commoner accused of stealing grain. Compounded torture using government soldiers was capped with a nearly fatal running-over of the victim by the Sheikh - back and forth repeatedly - with his Mercedes SUV.
Issa's fiercely Islamist, "screw Western Human Rights" example might be at work here, a sort of rebel tribute carried out on more captured "African mercenaries." Or that might just be an odd thought.
Is this running-over claim only based on the presence of tires, as reported by Channel2's Tantholdt, "around" the victims? I haven't seen recognizable tires, but some fibrous material that could be the remains of well-burnt ones. They burned the murder weapon too? Or were the victims simply burned with tires, as I wondered for part one, "necklaced?" Or were they run over and then necklaced? Were they already dead when set alight, or ruptured but conscious? The mind shudders at the horrific possibilities...
Maybe they were dead before even being run over. Only a few rebel fighters likely know for sure what really happened here. Nyhederne had another, less knowledgeable (??) fighter showing the burnt area. Asked "This is [the work of] Gaddafi?" (I used Google translate on the subtitles), the fighter responds "Yes. look him straight [??]. The proof is that they have burned them." No one else does that, by implication.
But the nasty men had lost the area, clearly, by the 12th. With the NTC forces in control, the Gaddafi thugs wouldn't be able to burn any more people around here, ever again.
A Second Burn Session!
Putting things together, al Arabiya's view shows the same bodies two days later,with black fluid apparently added. This is confirmed by another video I found, from Reuters, October 14. I didn't find it on Youtube or Reuters' own site, only at Scanpix. It seems the al Arabiyah footage is based on short clips of it. Here is more footage and better resolution. More clearly we can see the re-moistened clothing, as the bodies under their exclusive NTC control were apparently doused with oil and then, in one case anyway, slightly burnt.
The description there says, in part:
Libyan interim government forces said on Friday (October 14) [sic - the 11th] they had found up to eleven bodies, some of which had been burnt and ran over. The bodies were piled together, face down, in area known as the 'Dollar Neighbourhood' in Sirte.NTC Abdel Ati AlBarouni told Reuters:
This is a mass grave. That crime was committed by the men of Gaddafi. When we entered Sirte we found these bodies lying in this area, the Dollar Neighbourhood. There are burnt bodies that were crushed by vehicles. They are not recognizable. There are seven or eight bodies that have been piled on top of each other.There's the 10/11 distinction - the reports of 11 were counting eight bodies, not seven, on the main heap. Either they can't count up to seven accurately, or one body was removed before any news video was shot. The emptied burn area behind the wall, Reuters says, also evidenced "marks left by vehicle tires."
Here again is the guy from the right in the image at top, as seen on the two different days. On the 14th he's moister, from the oil dousing, and starting to really bloat. An even closer view shows severe cracking of the skin now around the wrist binding, many flies, and some maggots visible. Two days making such a difference supports my hunch they were there only about two days, or less, prior to the 12th.
The fire they set to him seems to have been centered around his face and shoulder, and not to have burned very long. A burnt face is blacker yet, and here shiny with more oil. It also seems pushed more into the dirt somehow, as if to half-hide the half-burnt evidence. Sloppy, stupid work.
Again, this clear dousing and toasting of "Gaddafi's victims" occurred under NTC control. Even if we consider the killings ambiguous, this is undeniable - it happened after the 12th. And then their goons just showed it all over again, blaming even that on Gaddafi's people (they're the only ones who do it, right?). How stupid do they think we are?
They found other bodies in a similar state around Sirte? Wonderful. Similar to which burnt bodies? The ones behind the wall that looked like the skeletons of the Khamis Brigade shed massacre, or the Benghazi Chadian roast victims? Or more like these corpses found half-burnt and piled face-down in Tripoli right after the rebels rolled in? Were the others run over for kicks as well?