Screen capture from a video in which a prisoner is subjected to torture.
Several videos allegedly showing supporters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi being tortured have recently been posted on the Internet. These images have reignited a debate amongst Libyan web users as to the dubious methods used by the country’s security forces.
The first video, published on December 20, shows a man, Ali Fezzani, who was arrested in Benghazi after having killed a security official in an attack on November 21. This attack was, as is often the case, blamed on Gaddafi supporters who allegedly are trying to get revenge on the city of Benghazi for starting the revolution that led to the downfall of their former leader.
In the video, Fezzani denies any implication in the murder and swears, with his hand on the Koran, that his earlier confession of guilt was obtained by torture.
This video created quite a buzz on the Libyan web, so much so that, when the country’s justice minister visited Benghazi on December 21, he mentioned Fezzani’s case
and promised than an investigation would be launched to determine whether he had really been tortured.
What particularly shocked Libyan Internet users was that those accused of torture were not simple militiamen but national security officers, that is, former rebel fighters who are now attached to the Interior Ministry. This launched an online debate on the use of torture, which led many people to bring out older videos showing torture sessions led by national security officers.
This next video, filmed in December 2011 in Zwara, a city 120 kilometres west of Tripoli, was the most shared. It shows a man in his underwear surrounded by a dozen people, some of them in uniform, who call him “Gaddafi’s dog” and beat him until he passes out.
A month after this video was published, another video was posted on YouTube showing the victim, Mabrouk Salil, being interviewed in a public park in Zwara. In this video, he explains that he fought for Gaddafi during the revolution. He says he was beaten during his arrest, but swears he was treated well after that.
According to many online commentators, the video filmed in the park was staged by Salil’s jailers in a bid to clear their name from accusations of torture.
Some Libyans have launched an online campaign to put a end to these practices. A Facebook page simply called “Stop Torture”
keeps track of cases of torture in Libya, including photos and videos as proof.