UN says Libyan guards reportedly shot at migrants fleeing air strikes

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A migrant picks up her belongings from among rubble at a detention centre for mainly African migrants that was hit by an airstrike in the Tajoura suburb of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Libya July 3, 2019. (Reuters)
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A migrant picks up clothes from among rubble at a detention centre for mainly African migrants that was hit by an air strike in the Tajoura suburb of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, July 3, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 04 July 2019

UN says Libyan guards reportedly shot at migrants fleeing air strikes

  • Libya is one of the main departure points for African migrants fleeing poverty and war to reach Italy by boat, but many are intercepted at sea and brought back by the Libyan coast guard
  • A report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said there were two air strikes late on Tuesday

GENEVA: The United Nations said on Thursday it had information that Libyan guards shot at refugees and migrants trying to flee from air strikes that killed at least 53 people, including six children, in a migrant detention centre.
A report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said there were two air strikes late on Tuesday, one hitting an unoccupied garage and one hitting a hangar containing around 120 refugees and migrants.
"There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape," the OCHA report said.
Bodies were still being recovered from the rubble, the report said, suggesting the death toll could rise.
There are still about 500 people at the detention centre at Tajoura, east of Tripoli, with four Nigerians set for release to the Nigerian embassy on Thursday and a plan for 31 women and children to be sent to the UN refugee agency's departures facility in Tripoli.
Libya is one of the main departure points for African migrants fleeing poverty and war to reach Italy by boat, but many are intercepted at sea and brought back by the Libyan coast guard, with the approval of the European Union.
The 53 dead was the highest publicly reported toll from an air strike or shelling since eastern forces under Khalifa Haftar launched a ground and aerial offensive three months ago to take Tripoli, the base of Libya's internationally recognised government in the northwest of the country.
"The number of civilian casualties caused by the conflict has almost doubled as the result of this single attack," the OCHA report said, a day after UN officials said the air strikes may have constituted a war crime.
The United Nations has repeatedly said Libya is not a safe place for rescued migrants to be sent back to and has called for refugees and migrants to be released and given safe shelter.
It has declined to directly criticise Italy for shutting its doors but said European states must help to resolve the conflict in Libya in order to stop people taking perilous sea journeys.


Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

Updated 10 December 2019

Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s former president Omar Al-Bashir appeared on Tuesday before a prosecutors’ committee over the 1989 coup that brought him to power, his lawyer said.
Bashir was “brought to be investigated in the case of the alleged 1989 coup,” said his lawyer, Mohamed Al-Hassan, who did not attend the hearing.
The lawyer also told reporters that in his view the hearing was “not a judicial matter, it’s a political matter.”
In 1989, Bashir, a brigadier at the time, seized power in an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
The former president was himself ousted by the army in April of this year after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup. The prosecution established a special committee for the case.
If found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under Sudanese law.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.
Bashir is being held in Kober prison in a separate case, for which he has been on trial since August, on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.
A verdict is due in that case on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Bashir was taken from Kober prison to the prosecutor’s office in a convoy under strong armed protection.
After the hearing, which lasted about an hour, a crowd gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office, chanting “Kober prison — the best place for you!” and “you killed people!“
Wearing the traditional white Sudanese jalabiya and turban, Bashir raised his hands to the crowd, before he set off back toward Kober in the convoy.
The veteran leader is also wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the war in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
To date, Sudanese transitional authorities do not want to extradite the former leader to The Hague.