by Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
The bodies of 157 people who went missing during last year’s revolution to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi have been . . .[restrict]found in a mass grave in Bin Jawwad, 70 kilometres west of Ras Lanuf on the road to Sirte, according to the Chairman of the High Committee for Missing Persons, Omar Al-Obeidi. It is the biggest mass grave found in Libya so far.
Speaking on Sunday, he said that the bodies were those of former rebels and civilians who had been reported missing between February and March last year and were from the areas of Brega, Ras Lanuf as well as the outskirts of Sirte. Some 80 of the bodies had been identified, all from eastern Libya. The mass grave was first discovered in December. Digging started on Friday and ended on Saturday.
Al-Obeida requested the families of the missing not to come to the cemetery while DNA sample were being taken because the removal of corpses might hinder the search prevent the finding the true identity of those missing, He said that the access to cemetery and removal of bodies was being conducted under the supervision of the Attorney-General Abdulaziz Al-Hasadi and the Grand Mufti of Libya, Sheikh Sadek Al-Ghariani.
Al-Obeidi has requested the help of local officials at the public attorney’s office in Sirte to obtain all cemetery documents and all death certificates issued by the city hospital. The Missing Persons Committee has been gathering information since October in its task including DNA tests on relatives of missing people.
Al-Obeidi added that these the revolutionaries who had died had been armed with light weapons when confronting Qaddafi’s attacking forces. Most had died from gunshot wounds and rocket strikes starting in March. Some were executed, he said.
He went to explain that some of the corpses had initially been transferred to Sirte in April and then kept temporarily in fish refrigerators before Qaddafi officials decided to bury them having first documented and photographed them and then carried out other legal proceedings in the presence of former Attorney General.
Al-Obeidi said that the Sirte public prosecutor, Abdul Hamid Amami , had requested that the corpses be buried at the battlefield. However, Osama Swail, a spokesman at the Ministry of Martyrs, Wounded and Missing Persons, said the bodies that were identified would be returned to the families for funerals. Two of his brothers, he said, were among the dead.
The teams found plenty of evidence to identity the dead, physical marks, dental fillings as well as some identity cards and passports.
It is estimates that around 7,000 people still remain unaccounted for as a result of the war. [/restrict]