Libyan government's anti-militia SSC held responsible for kidnapping and beating of leading human rights figure

Members of an elite unit set up by the Libyan government to rein in the country's rival militia forces have been accused of kidnapping and severely beating one of the country's foremost surgeons.

Salem Forjani, a heart surgeon working for the health ministry, was kidnapped on 17 May when he went to Tripoli medical centre on orders of the health minister to remove the director, who was accused of links with the Gaddafi regime.

There he was confronted by members of the government's supreme security committee (SSC) waiting in the director's office, who dragged Forjani through the hospital, beating him so badly he lost consciousness.

A fellow medic photographed Forjani being carried, his shirt off, spreadeagled, down the hospital's ambulance ramp while an SSC soldier threatened to shoot unarmed hospital security staff. The SSC troops incarcerated him in a base at Naklia, a suburb of Tripoli, where he was beaten and kicked.

After he was moved to a second facility, at Tripoli's Mitiga airport, the SSC contacted the health ministry and released him, having failed to charge him with any offence or explain the reason for his detention.

His kidnap and torture, and the silence with which it has been met by the government, has left many Libyans fearing for the future, especially in view of Forjani's status as a champion of human rights.

Last month, the United Nations special representative, Ian Martin, warned of the dangers in a report at the UN security council in New York. "The interim mechanism called the supreme security committee, with some 60,000 to 70,000 fighters registered, had, to some extent, provided a unified command," his report states. "It was essential, however, that the committee not become a parallel security."


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