Tripoli, 7 January 2013:
There was traffic chaos in parts of central Tripoli today, Monday, after clashes in Fashlum and Ben Ashur districts resulted in road blocks and street choked with vehicles trying to cross town. By evening, the Ben Ashur/Jeraba Street intersection by the “Safia” Mosque was still controlled by some 30 armed youths, with the north side of Jeraba Street closed off and stones and bricks scattered on the road. Other nearby intersections were similarly controlled.
The problem is reported to have started after the death of man from Fashlum accused of being a drugs dealer. He was said to have been arrested by a militia and it is claimed that he died as the result of torture. A video of what is claimed to be his body showing signs of torture has been circulating on Facebook. According to one report he had been taken to Ain Zara and tortured there.
The death resulted in clashes between family and friends of the dead man and the members of the militia. Fashlum Street was closed off at one point as local people protested the killing.
By chance, earlier during the day before the protests had started, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was asked during his press conference with visiting Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali what the government was going to do about illegal arrests by militias. He replied that the authorities had tried to be patient with such groups and not wanted to use force. But their patience was running out. Anyone who arrested anyone else, he said, without the express permission from the prosecutor general’s office would be pursued and brought to account, no matter how long it took.