United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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(d) Al Khums

  • A further example is the use of shipping containers in a commercial compound in Al Khums. The Commission met with a man who had been arrested from his apartment in Al Khums in May 2011 by Qadhafi’s security forces.492 The interviewee said he was taken to a detention centre not far from his home in the premises of a private company. He told the Commission how he was taken into one of the offices and made to squat on the floor, while blindfolded. His wrists were tied in front of him and he was severely beaten, for example by being clubbed with open palms on both sides of his head. The beating lasted about 45 minutes.

  • He was then taken to a shipping container in the yard of the premises and locked inside with seven others. It was completely dark, save for a small number of air holes that had been shot into the sides and roof of the container. He stayed there three days, after which an officer came in and grabbed him by his beard and threw him to the floor. Other soldiers pulled him out of the container and put him in a separate room in the building, alone, for another three days. Early in the morning of the fourth day, he was taken to yet another room, again blindfolded, and then beaten with a thick cable on his arms and other parts of the body. He was asked if he had incited people to go to anti-Qadhafi demonstrations. Another detainee was brought in and they were interrogated together. Both were severely beaten for over an hour. Their clothes were removed down to their underwear. An officer told younger soldiers to bring electric wires. The witness said he saw from under his blindfold that the officer had a stick in his hand, which made a crackling noise. This electric baton was used to electrocute him all over his body. The officer reportedly only stopped because one of his colleagues in the room nearby complained that he could not sleep because of the interviewee's screams.

  • The interviewee also described a form of torture “like a chicken roasting.” He told the Commission how he was made to sit on the floor with his knees up and his tied wrists held in front of his knees. An iron bar was then passed between his knees and his arms. He was lifted by two soldiers and the ends of the bars were suspended between two objects. While in this position he was beaten.

  • When the beating stopped, the interviewee stated that he was in such pain that he could not walk. He was dragged back to the container by two soldiers. As the officer was afraid that the interviewee might die, he brought a fellow detainee who was a doctor to treat him. The soldiers brought an intravenous (IV) drip, which the doctor administered. As they were not allowed to use a latrine, when the bag of the IV drip was empty, the detainees put the tube out of one of the bullet holes in the side of the container and then urinated in the bottle so that the urine would go outside. Because of the lack of latrine facilities, the interviewee said he prevented himself from defecating and suffered constipation.

  • The Commission was able to verify the substance of this account in four different ways. First, the Commission visited the site and saw the room where the interrogations allegedly took place. The Commission found the iron bar from which the detainee said he had been suspended and saw how it had been hung between some scaffolding and the window in the room. The Commission found an empty IV bottle with tube attached inside the container, as described. Secondly, an examination of the interviewee by the Commission’s forensic pathologist revealed multiple scars healing in patterned, linear “tram-track” bruises consistent with whipping with cables. On the psychological level, the interviewee exhibited deep psychological distress, becoming tearful when recounting the torture he suffered. He also exhibited other signs of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). Thirdly, the interviewee provided the Commission with some of the names of his interrogators. The Commission was able to track down one of those alleged to have been present at the scene, now in a detention centre himself, who confirmed his role in beating the detainees. Finally, the Commission interviewed other witnesses formerly detained in the containers and the conditions, the nature, scope and duration of the maltreatment described were consistent with the above account.493

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