국제앰네스티는 1996년 6월 29일 수감자 1,200명이 살해당한 트리폴리(Triopoli)에 위치한 아부 살림(Abu Salim) 교도소 학살 사건에 대해 철저히 조사하고 범인들에 대한 사법적 심판과 피해자 가족에 대한 적절한 배상을 제공할 것을 리비아 정부에 요청했다.
리비아 당국은 2004년에 이 사건의 존재는 인정했으나, 탈옥을 시도하던 수감자들과 간수 간에 벌여진 총격전에 의해 어쩔 수 없이 사망자가 발생한 것이라고 주장했다.
하지만 28일 당시 수감됐던 이들은 폭동이 발생한 것은 형편없는 교도소 환경 때문이었으며 간수들이 무차별적으로 자신들에게 발포한 것이라고 말했다. 교도소에는 그 다음날 큰 폭발이 있었으며 총격전은 2시간 정도 계속됐다고 그들은 말했다.
리비아 지도자 무아마르 알-가다피(Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi) 대령은 2004년 리비아에 방문한 국제앰네스티 대표에게 이와 관련해 “비극적인” 사건이라고 전했다.
2008년부터 피해자 가족들은 이들의 죽음에 대한 진실을 밝히도록 리비아 당국에 거듭 요청해왔다.
국제앰네스티 말콤 스마트(Malcolm Smart) 중동 및 북아프리카국 국장은 “피해자 가족들을 침묵시키고 아부 살림 학살 사건을 국가기밀에 부치려는 리비아 정부는 불확실하고 고통스러웠던 지난 수년을 끝내고 철저하고 독립적인 조사를 통해 범인에게 합당한 책임을 지워야 한다”며 “리비아 당국은 1996년 6월 아부 살림 교도소에서 목숨을 잃은 이들과 구금 중 고문 및 기타 잔혹행위를 당해 사망한 이들이 누구인지 확인하고 밝혀내야 한다”고 말했다.
이어서 스마트 국장은 “사망자의 정확한 사인, 장소, 날짜가 담긴 증서가 피해자 가족들에게 전달돼야 한다”며 “그들이 이미 받은 증서는 죽음과 관련해 정확한 정보를 제공하지 않는다”고 말했다.
Libya urged to thoroughly investigate 1996 mass prison killings
29 June 2010
Amnesty International has called on the Libyan government to thoroughly investigate the killing of up to 1,200 inmates of Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli on 29 June 1996, to bring those responsible to justice and to provide adequate reparation for families.
The Libyan authorities, who only acknowledged in 2004 that any disturbances had occurred at all, have claimed that the deaths took place during an exchange of fire between guards and prisoners following an escape attempt.
However, former prisoners say guards fired indiscriminately at prisoners who were out of their cells during a riot sparked by appalling prison conditions on 28 June. The next morning there was an explosion and shooting was heard for about two hours,former prisoners say.
Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, described the incident as a “tragedy” in 2004 to an Amnesty International delegation visiting the country.
Since 2008, the families of the victims have repeatedly called on the authorities to reveal the truth about why their relatives were killed.
“Rather than trying to silence the families of the victims and keep the truth about the Abu Salim killings a state secret, the Libyan government must end the years of uncertainty and pain, conduct a thorough, independent investigation and bring those responsible to account,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The authorities must publish a full list of those killed in Abu Salim Prison in June 1996 and of others who have died in custody as a result of torture or other abuses,”
“Families of the victims should be provided with accurate death certificates stating the place, date and exact cause of death; the ones they are receiving now do not shed light on the circumstances of the killings.”
Relatives have organised protests demanding justice for those killed. The authorities have generally tolerated these demonstrations, but those leading the protests have faced reprisals from the authorities, including threats; constraints to their freedom of movement and arrest.
The Libyan authorities have also offered relatives financial compensation for their loss, but only on condition that they agree not to seek justice through the courts.
Most of those killed at Abu Salim Prison were also victims of enforced disappearance. They had been arrested at various times since 1989 and had not been seen by their families since their arrest.
For years, the authorities denied that any killings took place at Abu Salim Prison in June 1996. Many families continued to bring food and clothes to the prison gates for several years in the belief that these would be handed over to their imprisoned relatives who were, in fact, already dead.
The prison was believed to be controlled by the Internal Security Agency (ISA), an intelligence body, rather than the judicial police who normally control prisons. The government has periodically announced that investigations into the Abu Salim killings have opened or are ongoing. Last September, judge Mohamed al-Khadar was appointed to head an investigation and promised a final report within six months, but this has yet to materialise.
According to the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, an organization headed by Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, one of the Libyan leader’s sons, there were about 1,167 families of victims – some of whom lost more than one relative in the killings.
Amnesty International has also called on the Libyan authorities to address the broader legacy of gross human rights violations committed by the security forces in past decades including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and torture and other ill-treatment.
Many of the victims were political dissidents or suspected members or supporters of armed Islamist groups.
“A few years ago, Libya was a closed country under international sanctions and human rights abuses took place in a climate of secrecy and isolation,” said Amnesty International.
“The country is now playing a much greater international role, and was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in May. If Libya is to have any credibility, the country should thoroughly investigate these past human rights abuses and punish those responsible.
“The continuing climate of impunity facilitates human rights violations. It sends a message to the security forces that they are above the law, while their victims are outside its protection. The families of the dead and the disappeared must have access to the truth and see justice take its course, and they should receive adequate reparation including an official apology for what was done in the name of the state” said Amnesty International.