last edits Dec. 31
Note, Dec. 30: Part two, not today.
There has been nothing going on at this site for much of 2012, myself and other contributors having become wrapped up in the events in Syria. In a real sense, there’s more good to be done/bad to be prevented there. Libya, sadly, has been doomed to whatever it is as it hadn’t been for sure when I started this site in April 2011. The ongoing conflict in Bani Walid an elsewhere, the civil war as it exists in reduced form in the Libyan mind, and the various crimes and abuses of the new government and its forces, are all still well-worth study, but we only have so much time in a day.
But a reader alerts me to a development in an area I feel an obligation to; the Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre, which is set to take on a courtroom dimension some 16 months after the event. As a reader alerts me, the upcoming trial for several accused asoldiers was announced in the "new independent Libya daily" Libya Herald on December 27.
Yarmouk camp massacre trials to start in 10 days’ time
The trials of ten men accused of involvement in the Yarmouk Detention Camp massacre on 23-24 August last year are to start in January.Accused, by-and-large confessed, and innocent. This series of two posts will serve double as a first new article here in months (and a last chance for one in 2012), as well as an open letter to the defense team for this upcoming trial. Anyone who knows who that is and how to contact them should pass this on to them.
The Yarmouk association has urged survivors as well as families of those killed to attend the trials and keep track of the cases. It added that a number of people believed to have been involved in the massacre are still at large, including the officer in charge of the camp at the time, Colonel Mohamed Mansour Dhau.
We have of course covered this event quite extensivelyat this site and via the Citizen’s Investigation into War Crimes in Libya.
- All research here, links gathered
- 152-page report, A Question Mark Over Yarmouk (PDF link)
- Summary press release - "Holocaust" denied
- video:Amnesty by Way of Fakery
In summary: Something like 80 apparent Gaddafi loyalists were slaughtered at and around the overrun Yarmouk military base south of the capitol, and the majority charred beyond recognition (those who weren’t charred were primarily Black men). Then a stream of fake witnesses came forth, eventually making it seem that 51 non-loyalist prisoners out of an original 157 had escaped without a scratch to tell the tale – blasted at close quarters with machine guns and grenades, by Gaddafi loyalists and African mercenaries. They formed a survivor’s group and had an anniversary meeting earlier this year, featuring the first-ever Black survivor. Their original champion, Dr. Salem Al-Farjani aka Dr. Salem Rajab, might be dead by now.
Recommendation to the Defense
First, anyone claiming to represent these accused Human Beings should consider the PDF report, especially the overview (section 1.1 pp 7-9), any sections hinted at there that sound interesting, and the part about the captive soldiers now to stand trial (section 2.3, pp 51-67).
If such a thing won’t get the courthouse rocketed, try for a special defense of incrimination. Your clients aren’t guilty, torture-extracted confessions notwithstanding, because somone else is.
It’s hard to know just who executed the people in question, but the evidence suggests it would have been primarily fighters from Misrata. The Misrata Military Council had the first information on the crime, 140 grenade-killed prisoners, all dead, increasingly burnt as reports came in, just found in some prison in near Tripoli. These leaks started at 6:15 AM on August 24, just hours after the massacre is alleged, the same day some rebels say they conquered the Yarmouk base, and three days before the Misratans later acknowledged access to the place. There is simply nothing else known that they could have been talking about - they were at the scene way too early and they knew it. All else, apparently, is made-up to cover for that. (report p.129)
One name does rise to the fore as someone to blame; Ibrahim Bietalmal, leader of Misrata Military Council at the time. (pp 139-141) Since then overseeing a "prison system" plagued by endemic torture, executions, and disappearances, he also may have had a special role in crafting the cover story for his fighters' crime. For one thing, he played hands-on (cigarette-burning?) jailer to another Ibrahim, some kid held in one of his Misrata hell-holes. The younger Ibrahim does appear well-treated, pampered like a star actor almost. He claimed to be one of the Yarmouk guards, either the grenade thrower, the main shooter, the main torturer, or the one who burned everyone alive on the wrong date. His last name always changes – Tajouri, Lousha, Sadeq-Khalifah – but the visual and biographical clues and the unchanging first name make the link clear. Ibrahim's name is probably fiction, but it's the same name as a chief suspect in this unsolved crime. (p 59-62)
So far, the victorious teflon brigades have had the last word on their crime, filtered through their own captives and various alleged witnesses who seem to be speaking freely, but can often be proven to be lying or wrong in their memories anyway. In court, that could, hypothetically change. The details of "Free Libya" will decide whether or not that happens.
If no such defense is lodged, that would be a bad sign for the prospects of accountability and justice there. If they're found guilty, it will be suspicious, but not surprising. In fact, I predict very little fight for prosecutors to get the win. I predict guilty pleas, and begging forgiveness and/or for death. The "revolution" must be vindicated. Facts on the ground can't do it, so one way or another, the courts will have to help.
Anyone challenging that decision will have to have some courage. I'm really not sure if I hope they do or not. Thefight for truth iscosmicallyworth it, every time. But one more kidnapped-and-tortured-to-death lawyer, just to slow to process down a bit, might not be worth it to everyone involved.
The Herald got its information from members of the Yarmouk Massacre Victims Association, who named several defendants in three separate trials with set dates in the very near future. There's little time to prepare that hasn't already passed. My recommendation comes late.
January 6: trial of four men accused of torturing prisoners to death (and/or the alleged mass execution?) at Yarmouk:
Yakhlif Sifawi, Abdul-Razak Baruni, Juma Daqdouq and Mohamed Harous are accused of torture and torturing unnamed victims to death at the camp.January 8, related Qasr Ben Ghashir killings trial (also covered in great detail in the report, pages 20-31):
A second case, known as “the Slovenian company case” (a reference to the company that ran the compound before it was taken over, as a makeshift prison) involves five named defendants: Hamza Mabruk Muftah Harizi, Marwan Emhemed Khalifa Gaddoura, Musbah Mohamed Musbah Ajim, Naji Massoud Najjar and Sami Saleh Ragie.Undated:
The third case involves just one defendant: Sergeant-Major Hamza Mabrouk Muftah El-Harizi. He is accused of mass murder. This case is said to be being handled by a military court.Part two I don't have time for this morning will go into those names and give some profiles of the men in the dock.
Note Dec. 31: Part two