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Abyar Crime Heats up Political Dispute in Libya

Abyar Crime Heats up Political Dispute in Libya

Monday, 30 October, 2017 - 09:30
Workers dig a water well in Tripoli, Libya October 25, 2017 REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The bodies of 36 people which have been found shot dead in al-Abyar, east of Benghazi, which became a heated political issue between commander of Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifah Haftar and his opponents, especially the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the ousted Mufti.

Haftar had directed the military general prosecutor to investigate the incident, meanwhile, the presidential council of GNA chaired by Fayiz al-Sarraj also stated that an investigation began into this crime to identify the victims and apprehend the criminals to be brought before the court.

“This is a crime, and all crimes will not pass without any earned punishment no matter how long it takes,” Sarraj announced.

The Presidential Council has issued a statement condemning the "heinous crime" and the horrifying act that led to the wholesale killing of 36 persons after being tortured then tossed on the road in al-Abyar district in Benghazi.

The statement issued on Sunday said that this act is only committed by inhuman individuals and those who are stripped of their ethics, morals and manners as well as religious teachings and social values.

The council added that such an act is against Libyans’ aspirations and efforts to build a democratic country where human rights are respected.

"There will be a thorough investigation in coordination with the Attorney General's office to bring the criminals to justice." The Presidential Council added.

For his part, ousted Libyan Mufti al-Sadeq al-Gharyani held Haftar the responsibility for the crime saying that anyone who supports criminals or justifies their actions is also responsible for what happened.

Justice and Construction Party, political arm of Muslim Brotherhood, considered the dozens of dead bodies in Abyar a war crime and a blatant violation of the UN Charter, international laws, and human rights’ principles.

The party issued a statement demanding the presidential council takes the necessary and immediate measures to begin an official investigation into this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a letter circulating in his office, Haftar confirmed that the investigation will include identifying the criminals responsible for killing the innocents and apprehending them for trial.

United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the criminal act discovered in Abyar area and tweeted on its official account: "UNSMIL condemns in the strongest terms the heinous crime resulting in the killing of at least 36 whose bodies found in Al-Abyar area," calling for immediate investigation to bring perpetrators to justice.

In addition, UN Sec-Gen Special Representative and Head of UNSMIL Ghassan Salame condemned in the strongest terms the killings of 36 men, who were found handcuffed, reportedly bore gunshot wounds, and showed injuries consistent with torture.

“I am appalled by this heinous crime. I call for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation to bring perpetrators to Justice,” Salame said.

“There have been many cases of this nature in the last two years, yet no accountability,” he added.

The Special Representative reminded that committing, ordering or permitting the killing of captives is a crime under domestic and international law.

Likewise, the Italian Embassy in Tripoli, tweeted: "Horrified at the sight of the bodies discovered in Al-Abyar. Such a heinous crime must not go unpunished."

In other news, Great Man-Made River Authority (GMMRA) has announced that water has been re-pumped into Tripoli that long suffered from lack of drinking water.

The authority published a statement on its official Facebook page stating that water will gradually be reaching most cities as of Tuesday. The statement said that the authority’s inability to pump water previously was due to what it described as “causes beyond its control.”

The authority asked the Libyan people to follow a code of conduct through which the GMMR will not be part of any tensions.

Across Tripoli, residents have started drilling through pavements to access wells in a desperate search for water after the taps ran dry.

GMMR workers turned off the water to do urgent maintenance earlier this month after years of neglect, cutting water supply to many Tripoli households.

For Libyans the chaos has meant power cuts and crippling cash shortages which are made worse by battles between armed groups aiming to control the oil-rich country and its poorly-maintained infrastructure.

Early last week an armed faction in the south said it had turned off water supplies from GMMR prolonging Libyans’ misery. A manager at GMMR, Tawfiq Shwehdi said the group is seeking the release of a leader imprisoned by a rival faction in Tripoli.

“We had started maintenance work on the 16th (of October) and cut supplies to Tripoli,” he told Reuters, adding that: “afterwards an armed group... set one power plant on fire which closed three other plants and shut down 24 wells.”

The incident deprived residents of water while boosting the business of drillers who are paid between 4,000-6,000 Libyan dinars to access groundwater.

In 2014, the escalated situations put extra pressure on Tripoli residents who reached about three million with the arrival of displaced families from other Libyan cities.

Head of the Libyan Water Authority Naji al-Saed declared that no budget has been transferred to the authority since 2011 except the emergency budget, which is the result of the financial difficulties.

Desalination plants dropped its production sharply, with output at a plant in Zuwara, west Libya, reaching 80,000 cubic liters from an annual rate of 16,000 cl.

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