By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Three men from Misrata . . .[restrict]held prisoners in Bani Walid were freed today following the intervention of the president of the General National Congress, Mohamed Magarief.
Two of the three arrived back in Misrata with Magarief this afternoon, according to the GNC’s official spokesman Omar Humaidan, speaking at a press conference this evening. Because of his condition, the third man, who has since been named as Imran Juma Shaban, required to be moved by ambulance and would remain overnight in Bani Walid, Humaidan said. A helicopter would be sent to take him back to Misrata tomorrow.
Humaidan did not disclose the nature or cause of the man’s ailments nor did he name any of the three. The other two have been since been named as Mohamed Assira and Abdul-Aziz Harous.
Three other Misratis remain held in Bani Walid.
Magarief’s move to free all six followed a protest by people from Misrata outside the Congress’ headquarters next to Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel. They had set up tents and blocked the road.
The protest started on Saturday when a convoy of vehicles from Misrata arrived late in the morning in Tripoli. The protestors claimed that the government had done nothing to obtain the men’s freedom.
One of the six, Imran Juma Shaban, was abducted on 12 July, just before Ramadan, according to his brother Ali. He had been kidnapped with his companion, he said, as they returned home from a mission on which they had been sent by the Chief of Staff Yusuf Mangoush during the clashes between the Mashasha and Zintan. He said that as they were returning, passing near Bani Walid, they were intercepted by cars, shot at and then seized.
A week later, according to Ali, the kidnappers contacted the two families to demand a ransom. However, they then changed their minds and phoned back demanding that the families support an exchange of the two for a number of detainees from Bani Walid and Tripoli held in Misrata and supposedly belonging to Qaddafi’s Brigade 32. It is better known as the Khamis Brigade.
It was reported that the two kidnapped men were among those involved in the capture of Qaddafi in Sirte before he was killed.
Imran was in very poor health, his brother claimed, as a result of being tortured and a gunshot wound. The family, he said, had been informed that he was paralysed from the waist down. They had asked the kidnappers to send him abroad for treatment at their own expense but they had refused. When they asked them to take another family member in Imran’s place, that had also been refused, Ali said.
He stated also that Assira and Harous were kidnapped on the same day by Bani Walid forces as Imran and his colleague.
According to the protestors outside the Congress building, the other two Misratis, named as Mohamed Shamat and Ali Abu-Shaala, were seized on the first day of Eid. They were said to be taking an elderly woman back to her home in Bani Walid.
According to Ali, it has been agreed that the Shamat, Abu-Shaala and Imran’s colleague will be released next week.
As I approached the protestors to talk to them, it was clear that they were suspicious of me. They asked for proof of identity as a journalist. When asked why they were suspicious, they said that after arriving in Tripoli on Saturday they had been approached by a number of people who told them that they were reporters and who started taking photos of the Bani Walid people who had joined the protest alongside the people of Misrata.
These pictures, they said, had been sent to Bani Walid and there had been reprisals against family members of the Bani Walid protestors who sympathised with Misrata abductees’ families.