Tuesday 20 February 2018

Woman faces charges over gang-rape claim

Donald Macintyre in Tripoli

The Libyan woman who publicly complained she had been gang raped after being detained by pro-Gaddafi militia is now facing possible charges of defaming the men she said attacked her.

In a shocking scene that has resonated round the world, Iman al-Obaidi was seized and driven away from a Tripoli hotel after a violent melee in which plain-clothes security men and hotel staff tried to prevent the woman telling her story to foreign reporters.

Originally the regime said her complaints were being examined as part of a "normal criminal investigation" and that one of the men she accused was the son of a high-ranking official.

Then on Monday her mother said that she had been told her daughter was being held in Gaddafi's compound and that she would be freed, and offered a house or money, if she dropped the rape complaints.

Moussa Ibrahim, the Libyan government spokesman, said yesterday: "A legal case is being brought by the boys she accused of rape."

The regime has accused Iman al-Obaidi of being deranged. Mr Ibrahim said the attorney general had been thwarted from pursuing the investigation into Ms Obaidi's allegations because she refused to submit to a medical examination.


Meanwhile, there was growing evidence yesterday of how Libyans are suffering from dire shortages of food, water and medicine in areas caught up in the six-week-old civil war, above all in cities under siege.

In Libya's third-largest city, Misrata, where forces loyal to Gaddafi and rebels continue to clash, the main hospital has been inundated with wounded and residents say water supplies and electricity have been cut off. Libyan officials deny deliberately cutting power and water.

"The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. There is a shortage of food and medicine. The hospital is no longer able to deal with the situation," Sami, a rebel spokesman, said. "We call for urgent help to protect civilians and improve the humanitarian situation."

Aid agencies were able to bring in supplies via Misrata's Mediterranean port last week but it is uncertain if they can deliver more because control over the port has seesawed between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces.

"We are very concerned (about Misrata)," said Eman Moankar, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross operations in eastern Libya.

In Zintan, resident Abdulrahman spoke of shortages as pro-Gaddafi forces remain outside the western Libyan town.

"It is difficult to even get water in from wells outside the town," he said.

UN aid agencies say they are reviewing conditions and hope to determine the next steps in coming days.

Irish Independent

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