|"Volunteers in Surt removed bodies of people apparently killed in reprisal by anti-Qaddafi militias. Many had their hands bound and had been shot in the head." (Mauricio Lima/The New York Times)|
By Kareem Fahim and Adam Nossiter
The New York Times, October 24, 2011
"In the parched garden of the Mahari Hotel, volunteers on Monday scrubbed signs of a recent massacre. They collected dozens of bodies, apparently of people executed on the hotel grounds several days ago, but left other evidence behind, like the plastic ties that were used to bind the hands of victims and shell casings, scattered on the dead grass in patches of blood. The volunteers said the victims included at least two former Qaddafi government officials, local loyalist fighters and maybe civilians. The killers, they believed, were former rebel fighters, belonging to anti-Qaddafi units that had used the hotel as a base in recent weeks. It appeared to be one of the worst massacres of the eight-month conflict, but days after it occurred, no one from Libya's new government had come to investigate. The interim leaders, who declared the country liberated on Sunday, may simply have their hands full with the responsibilities that come with running a state. But throughout the Libyan conflict, they have also shown themselves to be unwilling or incapable of looking into accusations of atrocities by their fighters, despite repeated pledges not to tolerate abuse.
... The Mahari Hotel, which overlooks the sea, was filled with suspicious signs about the killers, but nothing conclusive. The names of anti-Qaddafi brigades were scrawled on a whiteboard in the lobby, including brigades called Tiger, Lion, Panther and the Sand. Several of the brigades listed were from Misurata. At a graveyard near the hotel, a local doctor looked after the massacre victims, photographing the bodies and pulling a tooth from each victim, collecting evidence for the men’s families and for a criminal trial, should one take place. He ordered an assistant to splash water and spray insect repellent on the decomposing corpses that were waiting for burial. Several of the victims wore fatigues. The hands of one man, who looked to be in his 20s, were bound behind his back. Several victims wore bandages, leading the volunteers to speculate that they had been patients at the city’s main hospital who were detained when the former rebels captured it. Another doctor, watching, shook his head. 'What kind of democracy costs all this blood?' he said. The doctor, who requested anonymity because he feared retribution by former rebel fighters, said that if the killings were not investigated, the inaction would fuel dangerous resentments. 'There will be no peace in Libya for years,' he said."