UN probe opened into torture by Gadhafi forces
GENEVA -- A U.N. special investigator said Wednesday officials are probing allegations that Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's forces have abducted, tortured and executed opponents.
The U.N.'s special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez, told The Associated Press that the investigation has focused on the Gadhafi regime's alleged executions of patients pulled from hospitals, shots fired at crowds of protestors and other uses of disproportionate force.
The investigation "was an urgent action, at the beginning of the troubles," he said. Mendez said he had received complaints from Gadhafi's opponents when his crackdown began in mid-February and he sent a formal notice to the government demanding information about the allegations.
"Those communications are confidential, so I can confirm that we are engaged. But we cannot say more about it," he said
Mendez, an Argentinian lawyer and American University visiting professor of international law in Washington D.C., said he is teaming up for the probe with the U.N.'s special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions and a panel of experts on disappearances
He said they would demand information from Gadhafi's regime and if the responses are inadequate, that would be noted in monthly reports to the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council based in Geneva.
The council also has ordered a diplomatic-level probe of human rights abuses in Libya and the U.N. Security Council has ordered a separate probe at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal into possible Gadhafi-led crimes against humanity.
Mendez said his probe would include looking into reports by aid officials, migrant workers and refugees of Gadhafi's armed soldiers using ambulances to gain admittance to hospitals to remove patients and execute them elsewhere, in an effort to get rid of possible witnesses ahead of Gahdafi's admittance of foreign reporters into Tripoli.
"I can't disclose the names of individuals that were given to us or what happened to them, but I can say that they are the same kind of allegations that you have reported on," Mendez told AP.
"Shooting into the streets against demonstrators, picking them up from hospitals ... and also detaining and mistreating them and torturing them," he said. "The torture allegations that we received were more of mistreatment in the street itself, at the demonstrations."
Mendez said Gadhafi's use of torture and illegal detention in the past is well-documented and he might also look into some of those earlier allegations.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)