Arusha, October 18, 2012 (FH) – Opposition militias in Libya carried out mass killings on October 20, 2011 in Sirte, where former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was also executed, according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

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“The evidence suggests that opposition militias summarily executed at least 66 captured members of Gaddafi's convoy,”says the US-based NGO. “Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture.”

The 50-page report entitled Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte, details the final hours of Gaddafi's life and the circumstances under which he was killed. It presents evidence indicating, according to Human Rights Watch, that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of Gaddafi's convoy and subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 of the captured members at the nearby Mahari hotel. The evidence also indicates that opposition militias took Gaddafi's wounded son Moutassim from Sirte to Misrata and killed him there. “Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civil and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law,” writes Human Rights Watch.

HRW says that despite initial pledges by top Libyan officials that the events would be investigated, it has not seen any evidence that an inquiry is under way or has been carried out.

The International Criminal Court was given jurisdiction by the UN Security Council to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed by all sides in Libya after February 15, 2011, if the Libyan authorities are not able or willing to investigate or prosecute.