Bani Walid On the afternoon of 28 May 2011, there was a demonstration near the market in Bani Walid. Video footage seen by the Commission suggests that the demonstration was initially non-violent though the Commission noted that a few of the demonstrators were carrying arms. At some point, shots were fired at the demonstrators reportedly by a militia known as Jahafal, which, in Bani Walid, was under the command of .309 There is some dispute over whether the armed demonstrators then fired at the Qadhafi forces or were merely firing in the air.310 A number of demonstrators were wounded as Qadhafi forces fired into the crowd.
Together with 12 other young men, an injured man sought refuge in a room on the second floor of a nearby commercial building. Qadhafi forces, reportedly from the Al Fateh Brigade, stormed the building. One of the demonstrators told the Commission that his brother was amongst those who sought refuge in the building. He spoke to his brother by phone, trying to reassure him. While he was speaking to his brother, the phone went dead. The interviewee was informed later that all the men in the room had been shot dead. One of the soldiers of the Al-Fateh Brigade, , was later arrested by the thuwar. While he was in custody, the witness had the opportunity to question him. The soldier said that he had been ordered to reassure the men in the room that they would be safe. The soldier also said that the young men had a number of rifles with them but they had no ammunition. The men had then been shot. The soldier reportedly named the killers. The corpses were taken to the local hospital, transferred to Tripoli and released to the families after five days on condition that there should be no funeral procession and only close family could attend the burial.311
The Commission subsequently received footage reportedly of the execution filmed on a mobile phone captured from Qadhafi forces. The footage shows a number of dead bodies in a darkened room, with men in civilian clothes standing over them. There are three discernible voices. The first, seemingly one of the soldiers, asks the shooters to stop what they are doing. A second voice suggests using a hand grenade. At least one of the men is holding an AK-47. In the footage, a man with a pistol is observed and there is the sound of approximately a dozen gunshots, suggesting that those still alive were being finished off.312 Another voice then says “This one is alive, stop shooting”. The response from one of the previous speakers is ‘No, I want to fuck this one.’ He then repeats the statement.
A further series of executions followed the setting up of a false thuwar checkpoint by Qadhafi forces. A witness told the Commission that on 17 September 2011, he went to visit his brother a short distance from his house. He ran into a checkpoint with gunmen raising the rebels’ flag. They stopped him and asked him if he was with the thuwar or with the Qadhafi forces. He immediately answered that he supported the thuwar. The gunmen beat him, handcuffed him and put him in the back of a pickup, before sending him to a government complex in the east of the city. He was put into a room with 13 others, beaten and insulted. The group was subsequently searched, particularly for mobile phones. Three of them, including the witness, were released as nothing was found. He later found out that eight of the 10 found with incriminating material were later shot dead.313 A second witness was also detained at the same checkpoint on the same day, again having been asked if he was a thuwar or a government supporter. He was scared that if he answered “neither” they would not believe him, so he answered “thuwar”. He was taken to the same government complex. He was beaten and interrogated before a soldier whom he knew entered and recognized him. The man vouched that he was not a “rat”, at which point they let him go. They told him to run away from the camp and to not look right, left or back or he would be shot by snipers. As he ran away, he saw the corpses of the eight men lying next to each other, all handcuffed at the back.314 One witness described how his son, three nephews and nine other men returned Bani Walid after the fighting had subsided to check on their homes. They met armed men who gave them the victory sign and were holding revolutionary flags. He assumed the men thought they were rebel fighters. They were then ambushed and arrested by these armed men who were actually Qadhafi soldiers. The men were taken to an unknown building in the Torba district of Bani Walid. Their hands were tied and they were beaten with rifles, before 11 of them, including his son, were shot. His three nephews survived.315
A witness described how he had left his home in Bani Walid in September 2011 to avoid the shelling. On the morning of 17 September 2011, he returned to check on his home. He was arrested by 10-15 armed men near the oil station by the north entrance to the town while in a truck with 10 other men. They were taken to a building being used as the unit’s headquarters. Inside a courtyard, they all were forced to line up and face a wall where their hands were tied. They then were all hit with iron bars all over their bodies by 8-10 of the brigade soldiers. The witness, his brother and a friend were the last three in the row. They all fainted under the beating and fell to the ground. The other men were taken away. The three of them remained. A couple of hours later, they were taken to the Asuk brigade headquarters where they were interrogated. They were later released. Two days later they heard that the other men had been killed.316