Italy court upholds life term for Libya 'torturer, rapist' of migrants

Italy court upholds life term for Libya 'torturer, rapist' of migrants
A man who terrorised the Libyan camp was found guilty by an Italian court.
2 min read
09 March, 2021
Beni Walid was a dangerous place for migrants [Getty]

A Libyan man who travelled to Italy and was recognised as an abuser by his victims was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court after being found guilty of torturing, raping and killing migrants at the Bani Walid camp.

Osman M, whom is also referred to as "Ismail", was found to have killed six detainees in the migrant camp in northwesten Libya.

There were also accusations of rape and torture, Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation found.

The supreme court upheld the 2019 ruling of an appeals court in Milan which had sentenced the man to life.

The six victims were beaten to death, according to evidence presented at the trial.

Ismail was identified by Libyan migrants who recognised him at a hosting centre in Milan in 2016, Italian non-profit news wire ANSA reported.

Later, their testimony about the abuse formed the basis of his prosecution, as did medical examinations of the victims.

The violence was in fact committed by someone who, "after inflicting inhuman abuse on them, had crossed the Mediterranean with them and reached, like them, Europe's coast," the supreme court said.

The Court of Cassation added that the defence's claim that the man had become an abuser and killer because he was in turn being abused by someone else "is not supported by evidence".

Libya’s victims fight for justice

Ten years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, justice has yet to be delivered to victims of war crimes and serious human rights violations including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, forced displacement and abductions committed by militias and armed groups, Amnesty International said last month.

The charity launched a campaign demanding that the Libyan authorities offer "accountability and redress for violations committed both since Gaddafi’s fall and under his rule".

The protests that began in February 2011 were met with violence and quickly escalated into a full-fledged armed conflict, which following an air campaign by NATO, led to Gaddafi’s demise.

"For a decade, accountability and justice in Libya were sacrificed in the name of peace and stability. Neither were achieved. Instead, those responsible for violations have enjoyed impunity and have even been integrated into state institutions and treated with deference," said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

"Unless those responsible for violations are brought to justice, rather than rewarded with positions of power, the violence, chaos, systematic human rights abuses and endless suffering of civilians that have characterised post-Gaddafi Libya will continue unabated."

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