By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 24 January 2018:
Authorities in western Libya have arrested a group accused of being involved in the recent viral videos showing the torture of Sudanese migrants.
Sirte security forces from Bunyan Al-Marsous (BAM) said they had arrested five Libyans and a Palestinian in Qadahiya, an area some 130 km’s south of the former Qaddafi hometown.
They released eight Sudanese nationals, who were sent to Sirte’s Ibn Sina hospital for treatment. A shootout occurred when the smugglers refused to stand down, leading to the injury of one of them.
The operation was in conjunction with the Tripoli-based Rada Special Deterrence Force. While Rada played no part in the physical release of the prisoners, as part of the Presidency Council’s interior ministry, it did have a key role in intelligence gathering.
Following the widespread condemnation of the torture footage, Rada set up a committee to identify where the captives could be. It was aided by information from family members of those held. However, Rada said only four Libyans were arrested, in comparison to BAM who said six had.
Yesterday, Libya’s ambassador to Sudan was called to the foreign ministry in Khartoum to explain the situation.
The videos that spread last week showed young Sudanese men being beaten and burned as their captors asked for ransom money. Most were from the conflict-ridden Sudanese region of Darfur and had come seeking work or a passage to Europe.
While news that migrants in Libya are subjected to often-barbaric treatment is not new, the country has been the focus of international attention after footage emerged of a supposed slave trade in the country. A PC investigation led by deputy Ahmed Maetig has revealed little so far.