Fifty-three Muammar Gadaffi loyalists were executed by members of the counter-revolutionary NTC at a Sirte hotel last week, Human Rights Watch reported yesterday.
Human Rights Watch saw the badly decomposed remains of the 53 people on October 23, 2011, at the Hotel Mahari in District 2 of Sirte.
The hotel is in an area of the city that was under the control of the NTC before the killings took place.
The bodies were clustered together, apparently where they had been killed, on the grass in the sea-view garden of the hotel.
NTC factions from Misrata had held that area of Sirte since early October, according to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch called for an immediate and transparent investigation into the apparent mass execution and to bring those responsible to justice.
‘We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gadaffi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte, and some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot,’ said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who investigated the killings.
‘This requires the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities to investigate what happened and hold accountable those responsible.’
The condition of the bodies suggests the victims were killed approximately one week prior to their discovery, between October 14 and October 19, Human Rights Watch said.
The bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, and the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site strongly suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot and killed in the location where they were discovered, Human Rights Watch said.
All the bodies were in a similar stage of decomposition, suggesting they were killed at the same approximate time.
Some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs with plastic ties, while others had bandages over serious wounds, suggesting they had been treated for other injuries prior to their deaths.
About 20 Sirte residents were putting the bodies in body bags and preparing them for burial when Human Rights Watch arrived at the hotel.
On the walls of the Hotel Mahari, Human Rights Watch saw the names of five known Misrata-based ‘brigades’, who had apparently based themselves in the hotel.
At the entrance, as well as on the inside and outside walls, was written ‘Tiger Brigade’ (Al-Nimer), ‘Support Brigade’ (Al-Isnad), ‘Jaguar Brigade’ (Al-Fahad), ‘Lion Brigade’ (Al-Asad), and ‘Citadel Brigade’ (Al-Qasba).
‘The evidence suggests that some of the victims were shot while being held as prisoners, when that part of Sirte was controlled by anti-Gadaffi brigades who appear to act outside the control of the National Transitional Council,’ Bouckaert said.
‘This latest massacre seems part of a trend of killings, looting, and other abuses committed by armed anti-Gadaffi fighters who consider themselves above the law,’ Bouckaert said.