The news from Tripoli, Libya is not good. Mass graves of over 1000 prisoners killed in cold blood 15 years ago are uncovered around the capital, illustrating in vivid detail Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship. The start of the Libyan civil war in February 2011 can be tracked back to family requests to Gaddafi’s regime to account for the missing prisoners.
In 1996 over 1200 prisoners incarcerated at the Abu Salim Prison, in southern Tripoli, Libya were killed in cold blood by Gaddafi’s military police. The prisoners were a mix of common criminals and political offenders, including some fundamentalist militants. A Human Rights Watch Report recounted the facts:
Around 5:00 a.m. on June 29, security forces moved some of the prisoners between the civilian and military sections of the prison. By 9:00 a.m. they had forced hundreds of prisoners from blocks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 into different courtyards. They moved the low security prisoners in block 2 to the military section and kept the prisoners in blocks 7 and 8, with individual cells, inside. Al-Shafa’i, who was behind the administration building with other kitchen workers at the time, told Human Rights Watch what happened next: At 11:00 a grenade was thrown into one of the courtyards. I did not see who threw it but I am sure it was a grenade. I heard an explosion and right after a constant shooting started from heavy weapons and kalashnikovs from the top of the roofs. The shooting continued from 11:00 until 1:35.
Location of Abu Salim Prison. Mass grave was found in its immediate vicinity.