The fall of Tripoli in late August 2011 saw the surrender of the Qadhafi forces on a large scale. The thuwar subjected a significant number of them to serious maltreatment, including torture.504 Kicks and blows with fists and with rifle butts were dealt out upon their arrest. Detainees were generally held in a temporary facility before being transferred to a prison or to another location. Lower and middle ranks tended to receive the brunt of the maltreatment. Although many higher ranking members of the former Qadhafi Government were also mistreated, they appeared not to suffer at the same level.505
The Commission interviewed a young soldier who had been recruited into the 32nd (Khamis) Brigade just before the fall of Tripoli. He described how most of his group surrendered when Tripoli fell.506 The interviewee said that, upon arrest, the thuwar checked the cartridges in the magazines of the weapons to determine who had fired shots against them. Those who had missing rounds in their weapons were severely beaten. As this interviewee had not fired a round he was not beaten at first. However, later he was bundled into a pick-up truck and allegedly severely beaten. He said that the group was taken to a makeshift prison in a school in Marawna district in Tajoura, kept there for eight days and subjected to sporadic beatings.507
The Commission met a former police officer that had served with Qadhafi’s riot police (al-Da’m al-Amni) in Tripoli.508 He was arrested by Misrata thuwar in October 2011, handcuffed and taken to former business premises in Tripoli. Upon arrival, they tied his hands to his feet, in a sitting position, and he was hung upside down suspended between two walls on a wooden stick beneath his knees. He was left in that position until early the next morning. In the meantime, various thuwar came and hit him with electrical cables all over his body. They poured water on him. He recalls being tortured on eight different occasions during his detention. On the fourth day he recounted having been electrocuted on his feet. Another time he was beaten on the soles of the feet. In one session, the thuwar made other detainees count aloud the number of times the interviewee was hit with a cable. He reportedly lost consciousness and could not walk for two days. He remembers that about seven different thuwar tortured him.
The same detainee told the Commission that he was kept in a metal container with five other detainees, four of whom were tortured frequently. The cell itself was approximately two square meters, allowing just over a square meter for every two people. Detainees reportedly relieved themselves inside the container as they were not allowed outside. He stated that he was released without charge after 25 days.
The Commission saw visible marks indicating torture on this detainee two weeks after it was alleged to have occurred. Scars on his wrists from handcuffs, swollen fingers and lower arms, and scars on the legs, back and shoulders were all evident and were consistent with his assertions. There appeared no purpose to the beatings other than punishment, as the detainee did not report that he was asked any questions. The Commission met dozens of other current and former detainees with similar accounts, not only in Tripoli and environs, but in Misrata, Al Zawiyah, Zintan and Zowara.509
The Commission received information that as recently as 20 January 2012, a Libyan diplomat who had served as ambassador to France died in detention in Zintan, allegedly due to maltreatment.510 Misrata
The Commission noted the high number of allegations of maltreatment attributable to thuwar from Misrata. The Commission met with detainees in five separate facilities there.511 Those imprisoned therein came from various locations around Libya and were generally accused of having had some role in the fighting, the siege, or the destruction of the city. A significant portion of the detainees were Tawerghans.512 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) decided to suspend its medical services in Misrata’s prisons for allegedly being expected to “repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.”513
The Commission met with a former Qadhafi soldier.514 He told the Commission that he had deserted from the Brigade when he learned he would be sent to Misrata but was arrested by Qadhafi’s Military Police and served 20 days in prison. Later, he was sent to guard a detention centre in Tripoli. He was captured by the thuwar when Tripoli fell. He told the Commission that he was beaten daily using sticks and iron bars. He described how his captors drove nails into his foot and the detainee believed they had broken his left arm. He was also reportedly subjected to electric shocks. He stated that the beatings ultimately left him unconscious. The Commission’s forensic pathologist examined the interviewee and took photographs. He confirmed that the detainee’s left foot had marks consistent with healing after pointed objects (such as nails) were driven into them between the bones of the toes. The Commission’s forensic pathologist observed other injuries consistent with the account of beating.515