Published on 29 May 2012
On 14 May, 20 detainees were stripped and beaten in Ain Zara Prison, Libya, then left for two days on a concrete floor without mattresses or blankets. The detainees have not yet been examined by forensic pathologists. One of the guards allegedly responsible may still be working at the prison. On the evening of 14 May, a group of guards in military dress carried out a search of Block 3B in Ain Zara Prison.
Shortly afterwards, guards took 20 men to a separate block, including Abdel Latif Ali Tawil, Abdel Ati Mohamed Mosbah, Mohamed Sherif and Abdel Nasser al-Din Taher. The guards stripped the men down to their underwear and beat them with hoses and batons. The beatings reportedly lasted until about midnight. When detainees lost consciousness, the guards poured water on them to revive them so they could keep beating them.
After the beatings, the prison authorities left the detainees undressed on the concrete floor without mattresses or blankets for a further two days. When Amnesty International visited Ain Zara Prison on 24 May, many of the detainees still had visible injuries; one prisoner had a cut on his head and another had visible scars on his back. Ain Zara Prison administrators acknowledged that the incident had occurred and condemned the severity of the beatings, but told Amnesty International that they were a reaction to the discovery of illegal drugs and knives in the cells, as well as the detainees’ violent behaviour towards the guards. International law absolutely prohibits torture.
The Ain Zara Prison and the Directorate of the Judicial Police are reportedly conducting internal investigations into the torture of the detainees. Relatives of victims have also submitted complaints to the Public Prosecution. On 23 May, a committee from Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council visited the Ain Zara Prison and questioned some of the victims. However, the detainees have yet to be referred to forensic pathologists for medical examination, despite repeated requests by their relatives. Amnesty International has also obtained information that at least one guard who is alleged to have carried out the beatings remains in Ain Zara Prison.