Libyans protesting against abduction and torture of a neurosurgeon
Libyans came together in Algeria Square in Tripoli on Friday
in protest to ask the Libyan Authorities to review the illegal arrest,
abduction and torture of neurosurgeon Dr Hisham Anour Ben Khayal. He was
abducted on the 1st of April by Al-Zawiya ’rebels’ on the grounds of neglect
over the death of an anti Gaddafi freedom fighter.
The surgeon denies the allegations that he deliberately
withheld treatment of Fathi Mohamed About Shanaf who came to the hospital
35days after his initial injury where he received two operations under a
The case has now been elevated from a case of neglect to an
act for a criminal court hearing, under the charges of murder. The trial will
be carried out in the town of Al-Zawiya, where the deceased, Fathi Mohamed
About Shanaf, is originally from.
To carry out the trial in his home town is unusual not only
because the offence took place in Tripoli, but also it is feared that a fair
trial can not be conducted in a town where the deceased family members make up
some of the militia that govern the area.
Being a prestigious Neurosurgeon Dr Hisham, before the
revolution, previously treated Muammar Gaddafi. During the revolution Dr Hisham
saved hundreds of lives. At the protest I spoke with the mother of a Tuwar
(freedom fighter) who’s life he had saved during the February 17th uprising
(pictured here with the daughter of Dr Hisham). This is an example of the
allegations that now face many who were previously associated, in any way, with
the old regime.
”What we are
witnessing here is revenge, not justice. It is extremely dangerous when
relatives of the deceased are the ones deciding on the fate of the alleged
perpetrator,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East
and North Africa Deputy Director.
“The Libyan authorities must ensure that Hisham Anour Ben
Khayal is treated fairly and that an independent medical review into the cause
of Fathi Mohamed Abou Shanaf’s death and the treatment he received in hospital
Dr Fathom Abouzakhar, head of the Amazigh National
Conference, who’s language was previously illegal under the Gaddafi regime,
talked of the treatment Dr Hisham carried out on his daughter.
“I’ve known him for two years since he had to operate on my
daughters head, because she had a tumour. I knew it was a dangerous operation,
very delicate, with a low percentage of success, but he did it. I wanted to say
to the world he is a very humble person, very skilled in his profession”
His children and wife were also present at the protest, for
what was clearly an emotional day.
His eldest daughter, Rawia, expressed ” I really want to see
my dad, its 80 days now of illegal detention, what next, nobody knows. We all
wanted freedom, a different Libya, I’m just so sad for what is going on in
Libya right now, there is no reaction, everybody is just standing by, and
saying ‘inshallah it will be better’, when?”
Human Rights watch Libya and Libya Mother and Child Resource
were also present, and called for Libyans and the international community to
As Libya moves forward to the elections, there is amazing
progress, bearing in mind we are a country recently raised from war. However
transparency is key, the Libyan media must shed light on the good and the bad
stories if we are to push forward with a truly democratic Libya.
We have a huge task ahead of us, and cases like this will be
a real test for the judicial system, especially if Libya is intent of running
the trial of Saif Gaddafi on home soil.