United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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Factual Findings

Qadhafi forces


  1. In the investigations for its first report, the Commission received various accounts and estimates of those killed and injured in the early demonstrations in Benghazi.123 In its second phase, the Commission was able to confirm and augment some of this information.

  2. A former senior intelligence official confirmed that the initial response of the Qadhafi Government when the demonstrations started was for [071] and [008] to take control on the ground.124 The Commission received a videotape, reportedly found by thuwar in Qadhafi’s Bab Al Aziziya compound in August 2011, of what appears to be [008] in discussion with Revolutionary Committees (Al-Lijan Al-Thawriya) members in Benghazi in February 2011. He is seen and heard giving instructions to them to “crush” the demonstrators. According to two senior military officers, [071] was in charge of most of the Wahdat Al-Amniya security units.125 These were primarily units for the protection of the Qadhafi Government from possible military coup. He flew into Benghazi with men from these units to join [008] who was already present on the ground.126

  3. A former high-level military commander [050] told the Commission how [024], had told him, together with chiefs of police and internal security, that Muammar Qadhafi had given orders to suppress demonstrations “with all means necessary”. He said that at the beginning of the demonstrations, orders were given to prevent demonstrators from reaching the military camps and that only after demonstrators acquired arms did the Qadhafi forces begin using live ammunition.127 This version of events is not, in the Commission’s view, borne out by the deaths and injuries to protesters as recorded by hospitals in Benghazi.

  4. The Commission interviewed a number of medical personnel on duty in the hospitals.128 A doctor confirmed that most of the wounds during this period were of gunshots to the head and chest. He counted 64 wounded brought to the Al Hawary hospital on 18 February, and 89 people on 19 February. He provided the Commission with photographs showing that some bodies had literally been blown in two, consistent with the use of higher calibre weapons. He confirmed that his colleagues at other hospitals had reported even greater numbers of casualties being brought in. He further described how, on 21 February, he had been called to Fadeel ben Oumar military base, where in an underground cell, nine burned bodies were found. There was a fuel jerrycan beside the bodies. The bodies, (seemingly in civilian clothes from what remained), reportedly had their hands tied behind their back. The doctor noted they had suffered shots to the head, and he believed from the condition of the bodies that they had been burned after being killed.129

  5. Another doctor on duty in a hospital on 17 February 2011 recalled many injuries to demonstrators as result of gun shots brought in that night. He spent the next two weeks at the hospital without going home due to the influx of the injured. He recalled one case of a woman shot while she was watching the demonstrations from her balcony. The Commission received medical records to confirm the numbers of wounded treated by the medical staff. 130

  6. Witnesses told the Commission how, on 17 February 2011, protestors were shot by the Revolutionary Guard while they were trying to reach the square in front of the court (now called Tahrir Square) after they crossed the Juliana bridge.131 One witness said he had seen [062] the chief of the Revolutionary Guard standing in front of the Islamic Dawa office, from where the Revolutionary Guard opened fire on the demonstrators.

  7. Two witnesses said they had been among those who carried 28 bodies of some of those killed in a funeral procession which passed by the Fadeel ben Oumar military base on 18 February 2011.132 The building was surrounded by soldiers. Rocks were thrown, at which point the soldiers responded by opening fire. A number of people were killed. The witnesses were among those who came back and took the bodies to the cemetery. One witness recalled how, after the subsequent burial, one of the protestors bared his chest in front of the building and was shot dead.133 The following day, a crowd gathered in front of the barracks with a bulldozer. The driver was shot dead by the soldiers and when another person took over, he was also shot dead. Once the people entered the base, the witness said they found the bodies of people killed the day before which had been burned.134 [071] was using the building as a base during this period.135


  1. As noted in the Commission’s first report, demonstrations in Misrata started on 19 February with the first recorded death taking place on that day.136 The Commission has been able to confirm its findings that the first two days of the protests, which appeared to have centred around the Court’s Yard and People’s Hall in Misrata, were largely peaceful. Protests appeared to have escalated rapidly, however, with demonstrators attacking offices of the Revolutionary Committees, police stations and military barracks on 21 and 22 February 2011 and arming themselves with weapons found at these locations. The Qadhafi Government admitted to firing live ammunition at those who, it said, were involved in violent actions.137

  2. A number of former senior military officers, including one who was part of the Qadhafi forces attack on Misrata, told the Commission that the 32nd Brigade, under Khamis Qadhafi, was placed in charge of bringing Misrata back under control and continued to be so until early August.138 The 32nd Division Operations Centre reportedly had passed instructions to ground level commanders to shoot at civilians.139


  1. In its first phase, the Commission received various accounts and estimates of those killed and injured in some of the demonstrations in Tripoli. The Commission also received reports that demonstrators were denied access to medical care while others did not seek medical treatment for fear of being detained. This concern was well-founded: the Commission received reports of Qadhafi forces raiding hospitals and removing the injured.140

  2. Demonstrations in Tripoli started on 20 February 2011, shortly after the protests in eastern Libya. A large number of people appear to have taken to the streets on or about 21 February 2011 in response to a rumour that Qadhafi had fled to the country to a sympathetic state.141 While protests occurred in many locations in Tripoli, it appears that large-scale protests were seen particularly in what was the Saha-al-Khadra, or Green Square (now the Shuhada Square) and in the suburbs of Tajoura and Fashloum.142

  3. While the Qadhafi Government was able regain control of the street by force, it appears that there were regular confrontations outside mosques, where protests often started after the Friday prayers throughout late February and into March 2011.143 Seventeen people were reportedly killed outside the Tajoura mosque on 25 February 2011 after as a result of being fired upon by Qadhafi forces.144 On the same day, those exiting a mosque in Fashloom also came under fire from Qadhafi forces.145 Another interviewee informed the Commission that following the start of the protests, and continuing for at least ten consecutive Fridays, Qadhafi forces fired live bullets and threw teargas at those leaving mosques in Zawiyat Al-Dahmani.146 One of the doctors interviewed told the Commission that his hospital received 3-5 bodies, dead from gunshot wounds, following protests after Friday prayers during this time.147

  4. Doctors in Tripoli informed the Commission that between 20-21 February 2011, over 200 bodies were brought into morgues in Tripoli.148 One indicated to the Commission that most of those killed had received gunshots to the head and upper body.149 Two others stated that they had seen bodies which had suffered trauma consistent with being shot with a larger calibre weapon, such as an anti-aircraft gun.150 Almost all of the bodies received were male. They could only recall the bodies of two women killed - one shot and one stabbed - during the period of the protests. One was deemed to have been a likely bystander while the other was said to have been killed allegedly for being involved in the manufacture of revolutionary flags.151

  5. The Commission received reports that, in late February 2011, demonstrators en route to Saha-al-Khadra Square were fired upon at the Al-Masanea bridge by Qadhafi forces.152 A doctor working in a Tripoli hospital at the time told the Commission that eight bodies of protesters were brought in from that location.153 The same doctor said he saw Qadhafi forces seizing ambulances which the doctor believed they intended to use to transport their own wounded from scenes of confrontations and to use for security patrols and for the arrest of protesters.154 One protester interviewed by the Commission stated that, on 20 February 2011, he saw two ambulances with Qadhafi forces heading towards Saha-al-Khadra Square where protests were on-going.155

  6. Another doctor confirmed that senior hospital staff sympathetic to the Qadhafi Government gave orders that no protesters were to be treated in the hospital, but some doctors treated them secretly.156 Another doctor stated that injured demonstrators were being admitted in other hospitals, but that Qadhafi forces had priority.157 One doctor stated that Qadhafi forces were removing injured demonstrators from their hospitals, confirming the earlier findings of the Commission.158

  7. The Commission received multiple accounts of protesters being arrested and taken to Abu Salim, Ein Zara and Jdeida prisons.159 Those arrested provided descriptions of being beaten, burnt with cigarettes and receiving electric shocks to different parts of the body, including the genitals, during their detention.160

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