United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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Factual Findings

Qadhafi forces


  1. Al-Khums lies approximately 120 kilometers east of Tripoli. By May 2011, Qadhafi forces had established an ad hoc detention centre in the grounds of a foreign commercial company in the town.183 Detainees were held in two metal containers, which had bullet holes in the sides to provide ventilation.

  2. A former senior intelligence official told the Commission that the site was under the control of an officer of Military Intelligence (Jihaz Al-Amn Al-Askari, also known locally as Istikhbarat), Brigadier Mohamed Abobakr Daboub Al-Qadhafi.184 He was the head of the Search & Interrogation Office of Military Intelligence (Maktab al-Taharyat wal-bahith).185 This unit reported directly to [008], head of Military Intelligence.186 Second-in-Command of the detention centre was [002] (an officer from the Tripoli branch of Military Intelligence).187 [002] had reportedly been asked by [008] to create a ‘dirty operation’ brigade - Tashkeel Sqour Al-Fateh Al-Amny (Al-Fateh Hawks Security brigade) and to take control of the area from Garbulli to Wadi Gi’aab. Their role was reportedly to arrest and interrogate suspected thuwar in al-Khums, before sending them on to Tripoli for further interrogation by other authorities such as the 32nd (Khamis) brigade.188

  3. The Commission met four survivors from the containers.189 One described how he had been arrested in his home in May 2011 by soldiers in uniform, but with their faces covered with masks.190 The second was arrested by officers of the Military Intelligence as he drove in his car on 22 May 2011: [011, 015 and 033]. [033] was the assistant to Brigadier Mohamed Abobakr Daboub Al-Qadhafi.191

  4. A second survivor told the Commission that he was briefly detained at the Military Intelligence camp at al-Dreybi in Tripoli where he was beaten on the back of this thigh with a stick. One of the men began to pull down his trousers and he feared that he was going to be raped. He was then driven to the compound at al-Khums by [006]. It was based in the deserted compound of a foreign construction company. Inside the compound were a number of buildings including administration offices, a restaurant and two shipping containers. One was 40ft long and white; the other was a 20ft container and red.192

  5. The witnesses, interviewed separately by the Commission, were consistent in their descriptions of the treatment and torture they endured at the site. They were sealed inside the containers, with inadequate ventilation, very little water and no regular access to latrines. One of them said that he was not allowed to go to the bathroom for nine consecutive days.193 For the most part, they were kept blindfolded and their hands were tied with plastic ties. They were beaten both during interrogation in the offices and inside the containers. They were also subject to electric shocks. One witness recalled being electrocuted with an electric baton during interrogation. He heard one of the interrogator’s colleagues in the room nearby complaining that he could not sleep because of the witness's screams.194 Afterwards, fearing that he was going to die, the officer brought the other survivor interviewed by the Commission, a medical doctor, to treat him. The soldiers brought an intra-venous (IV) drip, which the doctor administered.195 The IV drip subsequently served a second purpose - the detainees put the tube out of one of the bullet holes and then used the bottle as a urinal.196 The first survivor related how they used the light from a digital watch to examine the wounds of detainees when they were returned to the container after being tortured.197 He related being tortured by a “strong black soldier” [021] and another soldier named [048].198

  6. The soldiers beat the doctor regularly and called him the “doctor of rats”.199 He described his arrival in the container. He was told to stand on one leg in the corner. He was told that if he let his foot touch the ground he would be beaten. One night he feared he would be raped as they pulled his trousers down. He began screaming and tried to hold his trousers up. He is aware that others were threatened with rape. A father and son were detained there and the guard had threatened to rape the son in front of the father if the father did not confess. The doctor also reported severe torture. During four interrogation sessions, he said was beaten frequently and hit with an electric baton on his nose, fingertips, elbows and lips. He described it as “like being bitten by a dog”.200

  7. He named the men responsible for his interrogation and torture as [005] and [072]. He said on one occasion, he was interrogated by someone who seemed from his voice to be a “cultured man”. While the man did not give his name, he was subsequently led to believe this had been the deputy commander of the camp, [002]. He identified [039] as the man who whipped him with an electric cable of the type used in electric heaters. 201 One of the men who beat him was [035].202

  8. The two survivors both related how they were not allowed out of the containers to defecate and so they ate sparingly to prevent themselves from defecating. 203 The survivors both also related similar experiences with interrogations. They were made to sit on the floor with their knees up and their tied wrists held in front of the knees. An iron bar was then passed between the knees and arms, before they were lifted and the end of the bars were suspended with the bar being passed through the broken window of a door.204 One described it as being "like a chicken roasting".205

  9. The day of 6 June 2011 was particularly hot. As the sun heated the metal walls of the container, the temperature inside rose gradually. The survivors related how they rationed the single bottle of water they had between them. They put their noses at the small bullet holes in the walls of the container to get some air.206 The detainees banged on the walls of container and called out for help. One survivor described how, when the water ran out, he drank his own urine.207 The guards ignored their cries for help. One by one, detainees appear to have lost consciousness. Finally, the guards opened the door. One survivor regained consciousness as the door opened, enough to recall the reaction of the guards who covered their faces to avoid the smell and seemed “shocked” by the condition of the detainees.208 Mohamed Abobakr Daboub, the commander, was fully aware of what had occurred as he was present at the time the doors to the containers were opened. Both survivors recounted how he had insulted them and used a Kalashnikov to fire further bullets into the sides and roofs of the containers to create more holes.209 The guards took one of the survivors interviewed by the Commission, who was a doctor, to the second red container. He related how he had found the inmates lying on the floor. ‘They looked like dead chickens’. Some had already turned blue and through his medical training he could tell they had clearly suffered respiratory failure. Others were showing early signs of rigor mortis. Only two of the nine people there were still alive. The guards brought oxygen from the medical clinic in the company compound and he was able to treat those who were still breathing.210

  10. In the smaller container, eight of the 10 detainees were dead, while one died later in hospital. In the larger white container there were 18 detainees. Nine died and nine survived. The guards removed the dead bodies and took the survivors to the bathroom where they were able to wash. By the time they finished washing and came out, one survivor said he could see a fire had been started inside the containers to burn away the smell. They were then taken to the guards’ quarters and given a green military shirt and trousers to wear. They were held in the guards’ quarters for the next few days.211 They were then put into a refrigerated lorry (the cold storage was not turned on). They were all scared that they would suffocate inside, so the guards put a piece of wood in between the doors and then tied the doors together with a chain to allow air in.212 On arrival in Tripoli, they were kept in the premises of a foreign company near the airport for some days and then transferred to a third company compound near the university. They remained here until their release by the thuwar at about midnight on 21 August 2011.213

  11. After their release, both survivors interviewed by the Commission established telephone contact with their former guards.214 One of the guards told one of the survivors the location of the bodies of those who died in the containers.215 The soldier had reportedly received orders to burn the bodies, but had instead buried the bodies in a remote area about 200 kilometers south of al-Khums.216 Subsequently, the bodies were exhumed on 8 September 2011 from a mass grave at Al Orban, near Gharyan and taken to the Tripoli Medical Centre morgue.217 The first survivor told the Commission that he was asked to go to the hospital in Tripoli to identify the bodies. He was able to identify the detainees, despite the state of the bodies, from their long hair or beard or other features. It seems that not all those who died did so from suffocation. At least one who was still alive when the container doors were opened was said to have been subsequently shot, as the survivor said that he noticed entry and exit wounds in the man’s temples.218 The bodies were given a proper burial.219

  12. The Commission was able to corroborate much of what they heard from the survivors. Three of the survivors accompanied the Commission to the site of the containers. In the adjacent office where the suspension from the bar reportedly took place, an iron bar was still there and was identified by one of the survivors as the one used to suspend him. There was also scaffolding and the survivor demonstrated to the Commission how the iron bar was suspended between the scaffolding and the window. There was also electric cable, reportedly used to beat the detainees; and plastic ties with which they were handcuffed.220 The Commission’s forensic pathologist also examined each of the survivors interviewed and recorded the scars he found on each was consistent with the treatment alleged.221 Most significantly, the Commission interviewed one of the individuals named as having carried out the torture. He was a soldier in Military Intelligence in Tripoli who had been stationed at the camp in Al-Khums, under the command of Mohamed Abobakr Daboub.222 He admitted to beating the detainees with electric rods and sticks during interrogation by orders from Mohamed Abobakr Daboub, [034] and [013]. He also admitted that he was ordered to rape some male detainees in Al-Khums by Daboub but he refused. He insists that no rape actually occurred in Al-Khums.223 The former guard interviewed by the Commission said he was on duty when the detainees died, though he said he was guarding the gate of the camp and was not close to the containers.224

  13. The IV bottle used to treat the prisoners was also still there. The Commission also found a number of documents left at the site. The documents confirm the presence of [002].225 [002] was also named specifically as responsible for the deaths in the container by one of the former senior intelligence officials interviewed by the Commission.226 He said he had heard oral reports on the incident in June from Military Intelligence (Istikhbarat) in Al Khums as the incident was being reported to [008]. While Daboub had not meant to kill them, [008] had been “very upset” by this incident.227 Daboub died of a stroke in the brain a short time after the incident. 228

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