LONDON: The family of a UK-based photographer who was killed in Libya by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces during the country’s revolution have launched a campaign to urge the new government to investigate his death.
Anton Hammerl’s body was never recovered after he was shot in the desert and left for dead in 2011.
He was part of a small group of ambushed journalists that included US reporter James Foley, who was kidnapped and later murdered on camera by Daesh in Syria.
A short-lived war crimes investigation into Hammerl’s death was abandoned when Gaddafi’s regime was toppled by rebels backed by NATO air support.
Hammerl’s family hope that with the relative calm emerging following years of instability in Libya, the new interim government will reopen the investigation into his death.
The family plan to take the case to the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the UN working group on forced disappearances on Monday, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of his death.
“On the face of it, we believe there’s reasonable evidence to believe that Anton’s death was a war crime,” said a representative for the family.
She added that research into Hammerl’s death that Foley had been working on at the time of his own murder had been supplied to the campaign.
“This wasn’t journalists just caught in a crossfire. They were identifiable as civilians and journalists when they were targeted, and Anton was killed during an enforced abduction,” she said. “The international community has treated his death with a shrug of the shoulders.”
Hammerl had been covering the Libyan war when the group he was with came under fire from Gaddafi’s soldiers in a remote desert location near Brega in April 2011.
The Gaddafi regime initially told the family that Hammerl had been captured by its forces, but they found out nearly two months later that he had been shot dead and his body abandoned in the desert.
Last month, warring sides in Libya reached a power-sharing deal that its backers hope will bring peace to the fractured country.
Hammerl’s wife Penny Sukhraj-Hammerl, who had just given birth to the couple’s second child when he was killed, expressed hope that the new government in Libya will take action to help find her husband’s body and explain his death.
“It’s been … a very hard 10 years for the family, but it’s our hope after all these years there might be a different flavor in the air, a different caliber of leadership that may consider things in a different way,” she said. “So we’re hopeful.”