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Libyan man, Tripoli. Photo: MT elGassier

Power struggle in Tripoli: Private torture prison hiding inmates to avoid inspection

According to reports from the Libyan capital Tripoli, high-ranking prisoners were either transferred from the unofficial and notorious Mitiga prison to other private detention facilities or placed in guarded houses in Tripoli in a cloak-and-dagger operation. 

Published: September 18, 2020, 2:30 pm

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    The prisoners are said to be mainly family members of the former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi (murdered in 2011), members and supporters of the Gaddafi government and abducted foreigners including the Russian sociologist Maxim Shugaley.

    Mitiga is one of the many “unofficial” prisons in Tripoli. The Mitiga prison is controlled by the radical Sunni militia RADA. RADA leader Abdul Raouf Kara has given the order to clear the prison in order to cover up the brutal crimes committed by his subordinates on their prisoners.

    Kara’s main concern is that an inspection of the Mitiga prison could take place at any time to uncover the crimes committed by his troops there.

    The concern about a review of prisons must be viewed against the backdrop of the current power struggle within the so-called “Government of National Accord” (GNA) in Tripoli. In addition, negotiations for peace in Libya are currently taking place on an international level. This could lead to a rapid loss of power by militias such as the RADA and to an investigation of the crimes allegedly committed by the members of the militia.

    Above all, the conditions in Mitiga prison could soon be the focus of such an investigation. Numerous regional media outlets have already reported in the past on the inhuman conditions under which the prisoners there were said to be kept. They are held in cells that are far too small and frequently harassed, beaten, maltreated and tortured by the guards.

    In May 2020, a report by UN Secretary General António Guterres pointed out that UNSMIL (the UN Mission in Libya) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had received reports of torture, overcrowding and lack of sanitation and medical care, especially in detention facilities of the Ministry of the Interior – including Mitiga prison.

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