Inquiry call as 53 Gaddafi troops found massacred
Supporters bound and shot in hotel
Libya's interim rulers faced further questions yesterday over their conduct during the war to oust Muammar Gaddafi, after the discovery of an apparent massacre of regime supporters in rebel-controlled territory in Sirte.
Human Rights Watch said 53 people appeared to have been shot dead at a hotel in the centre of the city when it was under the control of fighters from Misurata. The badly decomposed bodies, some with their hands bound behind their backs, were found in a garden of Hotel Mahari.
The group called on the National Transitional Council (NTC) to carry out an immediate investigation into the deaths, and was echoed last night by the US State Department, which urged Libya to uphold human rights. It called the allegations "extremely disturbing".
Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, said: "The evidence suggests that some of the victims were shot while being held as prisoners, when that part of Sirte was controlled by anti-Gaddafi brigades who appear to act outside the control of the NTC.
"If the NTC fails to investigate this crime it will signal that those who fought against Gaddafi can do anything without fear of prosecution."
Yesterday, the interim government bowed to international pressure and announced a commission to determine how Gaddafi died after he was cornered in a drain.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the NTC, and other officials have said Gaddafi was killed in crossfire. Mr Jalil said: "In response to international calls, we have started to put in place a commission tasked with investigating the circumstances of Muammar Gaddafi's death in the clash with his circle as he was being captured."
The NTC ended the display of the bodies of Gaddafi, his son and army chief yesterday, after four days in which thousands of Libyans came to see that the dictator was really dead.
Mr Jalil also yesterday attempted to reassure the NTC's Western backers that the country would be a "moderate" Muslim nation, amid concern over its plans to introduce Islamic law. He appeared to soften his position less than 24 hours after using the liberation ceremony to declare that Sharia law would be the basis of all legislation.
His attempt at conciliation hinted at the difficulty the NTC is having in balancing the demands of secularists and influential Islamist factions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)