LIBYA: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte

New evidence collected by Human Rights Watch implicates Misrata-based militias in the apparent execution of dozens of detainees following the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi one year ago. The Libyan authorities have failed to carry out their pledge to investigate the death of dozens held in rebel custody, Human Rights Watch said.

Among the most powerful new evidence is a mobile phone video clip filmed by opposition militia members that shows a large group of captured convoy members in detention, being cursed at and abused. Human Rights Watch used hospital morgue photos to establish that at least 17 of the detainees visible in the phone video were later executed at the Mahari Hotel.

Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civilian and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.

For the full report, "Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte," click here:




  • Bodies of apparent execution victims found at the Mahari Hotel in Sirte on October 22, 2011, the day after the final battle with the Gaddafi convoy. An estimated 66 captured members of the Gaddafi convoy were apparently executed at the site by opposition fighters. Human Rights Watch researchers visited the site on October 23, 2011, and found the decomposing bodies of 53 apparent execution victims, all male, still at the scene.
    © 2011 Peter Bouckaert/Human Rights Watch

  • The entrance to the Mahari Hotel in Sirte on October 23, 2011, where the bodies of an estimated 66 captured members of the Gaddafi convoy were found, apparently victims of summary execution. At the time of the killings, the hotel was under the control of Misrata-based opposition fighters, who spray-painted the names of their units on the walls of the hotel. The red graffiti on the right of the entrance states "Tiger Brigade," a prominent Misrata fighting group.
    © 2011 Peter Bouckaert/Human Rights Watch

  • Photo shows Ahmed Al-Ghariyani's body as photographed by Sirte hospital volunteers, between October 21 and 22, 2011. Al-Ghariyani, a navy soldier from Tawergha, was recorded in custody of opposition fighters in Sirte on October 20, 2011. In the seven-minute video, 29 detainees can be seen, including Al-Ghariyani, sitting against a wall opposite from where the final battle with the Gaddafi convoy took place, being abused, cursed, spat upon, kicked, and insulted. Using morgue photos and interviews with family members, Human Rights Watch matched many of the people in the video against the bodies found and recovered from the Mahari Hotel.
    © 2011 Private

Maps and Satellite

  • 2012_libya_qaddafideath_map

    Map detailing locations along the path of Muammar Gaddafi’s convoy’s attempted escape from Sirte, and the sites of confrontations and other incidents discussed in the Human Rights Watch report.
    © 2012 Human Rights Watch