Human Rights Watch said that an armed group of the LNA carried out a mass execution of dozens of civilians in the area of Al-Abyar, east of Benghazi.
On Wednesday the Human Rights Organization reported on its website that six relatives of the victims stated that their relatives were arrested on different dates by LNA armed groups in Benghazi and other areas under their control.
The organization said it had met with relatives of two of the victims in Tripoli and had interviewed relatives of four others, all of whom confirmed that their relatives had been arrested earlier in 2017, some for only two days, some more, before their bodies were found. The families of the victims said that the victims were wounded by one or more gunshot wounds, with their hands tied behind their backs; based on information they received from other relatives who saw the bodies at the Benghazi Medical Center.
Deputy Chief of Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights, Eric Goldstein said: “The pledges of the Libyan National Army to investigate the repeated unlawful killings in the areas of its control in Eastern Libya have not produced any results to date”.
Goldstein said that “if the pledge to investigate this hideous discovery is just another empty promise, it will seem to have condoned war crimes.” Goldstein said senior military commanders who do not deal strictly with serious abuses in places under their control and who are not held accountable should be prosecuted for war crimes.
The Arrest Process
Human Rights Watch reviewed multiple lists containing 25 names of persons found in Abyar, but could not determine whether they were civilians or combatants of forces opposed to the LNA.
The organization followed up the details of the incident and explained that it had seen photographs of bodies, published on social media sites from unspecified sources on 26 October, showing the collective images of at least 35 bodies, and researchers reviewed pictures taken from close range of 23 of the victims.
The organization showed that most of the 23 victims who were photographed closely were handcuffed behind their backs with plastic cuffs, each of whom was apparently immersed in a pool of blood. Most of them had gunshot wounds to the head, neck or face.
Forensic investigator Stephan Schmidt reviewed the pictures, saying the injuries were consistent with close-range executions where the bodies were found, and the bodies apparently remained intact from the time of their execution until they were found.
Schmidt explained that the pictures were probably taken a few hours after the executions; because the blood did not appear to dry completely, he said.
Interviews with officials in Libya
Human Rights Watch conducted a phone interview with chief of police Jalal al-Huweidi on November 27, and he said that all the bodies were found in one place; a desert area southeast of Al-Abyar.
He added that his forces had been informed of the bodies of persons who had been executed. They arrived at the scene and took the bodies, with the help of the Red Crescent, to Benghazi Medical Center after the Criminal Investigation Department and the Public Prosecution examined the crime scene.
The crime of finding 36 bodies dumped in the Abayar area east of the city of Benghazi last October led to local and international condemnations of Operation Dignity forces that control the Eastern region, claiming to be eliminating terrorism.
The incident is one of a series of similar incidents in eastern Libyan, where bodies were found with signs of torture and gunshot wounds, and others found dumped in garbage cans, and others lying on the street. Human rights organizations described these incidents as war crimes against humanity.