By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 29 November 2017:
Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes that fighters loyal to the Libya National Army (LNA) executed 36 men and is concerned that it has failed to release any results of a promised investigation.
“The Libyan National Army’s pledges to conduct inquiries into repeated unlawful killings in areas under their control in eastern Libya have so far led nowhere,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.
The bodies were found on 26 October close to a main road south east of Al-Aybar, 50 kilometres east of Benghazi.
“The LNA will be condoning apparent war crimes if their pledge to investigate the gruesome discovery in Al-Aybar proves to be another promise,” Goldstein added.
Stefan Schmitt, a forensic investigator who reviewed images of the victims, said the injuries were consistent with executions at point blank range.
HRW says it interviewed relatives of two of the victims who reported that their relatives bore gunshot wounds and had their hands tied behind their backs.
“All relatives also said that armed groups from Benghazi prevented families from putting up tents in front of their Benghazi homes to receive guests during the traditional three-day mourning period,” a statement by HRW said.
The relatives of six of the victims further claimed that they were civilians seized from their homes, in the presence of their families.
HRW met with Ayman Al-Sahati, whose brother Ahmed, a 42-year-old father of four, was one of the men killed.
“The minute my brother Ahmed walked down the stairs to the first floor after hearing the commotion, the uniformed fighters jumped on him and started kicking him and beating him with the butts of their weapons,” he said.
“My father demanded to know, “Who are you? Where are you taking him? What did he do?” One responded, “We are the army”. Another said, “We are from internal security”. The fighters who remained outside of the house were shooting in the air,” he added.
Another relative interviewed said their family member appeared to have bite marks on his body from stray dogs. All those that HRW met with said their relatives were accused of being against the LNA, supporters of the so-called Islamic State, or both.
HRW said that some LNA units included adherents of the strict Salafist Madakhla ideology who view commander-in-chief Khalifa Hafter as their “ruler” to whom they owe “obedience”.