Italy arrests three men suspected of torturing migrants in Libya

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Italian prosecutors on Monday ordered the arrest of three people on suspicion of torturing migrants in a detention center in northwest Libya.

The court order, seen by Reuters, said the men, believed to be Guinean, 22, and Egyptian, 24 and 26, were believed to be part of a group that had abducted and abused dozens of people.

Prosecutors gathered testimonies from several migrants detained at the former military base in Zawiya, who said they had identified their former jailers among residents of a Sicilian immigrant registration center.

According to a judicial document, one of the migrants told the judiciary “I was beaten several times. I suffered real torture that left marks on my body … I was whipped with electric wires.”

The migrants said the prison was surrounded by high walls and had a blue gate at the entrance. Inmates were segregated by gender or ethnic group and were guarded by gunmen.

The head of the center was described as a short, bald Libya named Osama, and feared because of his brutality.

Another immigrant told investigators, “Asma is the fiercest… As a result of the torture, he is responsible for the killing of two migrants.”

Women were systematically raped and prisoners were allowed to contact their families to request payment for their freedom. Those who did not pay were usually killed or sold to human smugglers.

“This investigation … confirms the inhumane conditions in Libya’s so-called detention centers and the need to act, including at the international level,” said Luigi Patronaggio, prosecutor of the city of Agrigento on the island of Sicily.


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