A video of unknown origin has surfaced, apparently showing guards in Tripoli, Libya, beating and berating Saadi Gaddafi, one of the many sons of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Saadi Gaddafi is being tried for the killing of a football player.
The Washington Post reports that the video appeared on a website called Clear News, and it appears to show the younger Gaddafi being forced to listen to people off-screen being tortured, and having his feet beaten with a stick. The video is about nine minutes long.
The Post translates some of the dialogue. A guard appears to ask Gaddafi “whether he would prefer to be beaten on his feet or his buttocks,” to which he responds, “What kind of question is this?” and then answers, “My feet.” None of the shouted dialogue by individuals who appear to be in the middle of beatings away from the camera is intelligible.
Who took the video or why it is being released is unclear, but human rights groups have immediately jumped to defend Gaddafi. “The graphic video that seems to show prisoners being beaten raises serious concerns about the methods used to interrogate al-Saadi Gaddafi and other detainees at al-Hadba prison,” said Human Rights Watch representative Joe Stork. Melinda Taylor, who is representing Gaddafi before the International Criminal Court for crimes he allegedly committed while his father was in power, protested that her client was being subjected to “the maximum mistreatment.”
Saadi Gaddafi is being held by the Libya Dawn government of Tripoli, which is widely believed to have ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and is not recognized internationally as the government of Libya. While not in the capital, the internationally recognized government is a more secular coalition governing out of Tobruk.
Saadi is considered one of the less high-profile sons of the late dictator. He was widely known as a football (soccer) enthusiast and played football in Italy for some time. He is being charged in the murder of football player Bashir Riani, which could result in a death sentence. The charges followed his capture after spending more than a year in Niger, fleeing the anti-Gaddafi rebels who had taken control of most of Libya.
The Tripoli court sentenced Saadi’s brother, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, to death in July for, among other crimes, ordering the killings of protesters during the 2011 rebellion that resulted in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi is currently in the custody of the Zintan rebel group and unlikely to meet his Tripoli death sentence, however, as the Zintan group does not trust the Tripoli organization, due to its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Zintan group is reportedly allied with the Tobruk internationally recognized government, and reports indicate Zintan leaders fear handing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to Tripoli authorities will result in his escape.