Libya: Families of Tarhuna mass grave victims push for prosecutions

Libya: Families of Tarhuna mass grave victims push for prosecutions
2 min read
04 January, 2022
Residents of a Libyan town where hundreds of mass graves were found last year are planning to revive a criminal case to apprehend and prosecute those behind the massacres
Hundreds of bodies have been found since June 2020 in Tarhuna's mass graves [Getty- archive]

Authorities in Libya’s Tarhuna are planning to reactivate a criminal case regarding mass graves found in the northwestern town last year and bring perpetrators to justice.

Mass graves were initially discovered in Tarhuna in June 2020 following the withdrawal of forces of Khalifa Haftar, an eastern Libya-based military chief who had spent a year trying to seize the capital Tripoli.

More bodies were uncovered the following months, bringing the total number to 200.

The farming town was controlled for years by the Kaniyat militia, run by six brothers - allied to Haftar - who imposed their dominance by allegedly slaughtering opponents and their entire families.

Residents of Tarhuna buried the remains of two people found in the mass graves just days ago.

They were identified as Ammar Abu Zuweida and Ezzedine Abu Zuweida through DNA tests.

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Dozens of Tarhuna residents are still waiting for DNA results of more corpses found in the mass graves.

Hundreds of reports of missing people have been filed in Tarhuna.

Rights activist in Tarhuna, Ashraf Arhouma, said the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Tarhuna received a number of complaints from the families of victims for a whole week in December, until investigations commenced.

Arhouma explained to The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that commencing the investigations will step up pressure on authorities by imposing the case as a fait accompli. He added that without pressure, the wait for officials to act will be long and not yield results anytime soon.

Tripoli’s military court sentenced a man to six years and a half in prison days ago, after finding him guilty of belonging to the Kaniyat militia and contributing to the killing of five civilians.

It was seen as the first case in the Tarhuna mass graves issue to reach the end of a long legal process and have a sentence issued.