Ex-intel chief to Gaddafi wounded, raising more questions about handling of detainees
By Colum Lynch and Mary Beth Sheridan
The former intelligence chief to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was seriously injured Tuesday while in the custody of the National Transitional Council, fueling concerns about the treatment of loyalists to the deposed government.
The cause of Abuzed Omar Dorda’s injuries are disputed, but a relative of Dorda, a one-time U.N. envoy, has appealed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council president to intercede with Libyan authorities to protect the former official, saying he had been the target of an assassination attempt by his jailers. The U.N.’s special representative to Libya, Ian Martin, has instructed his staff to look into the claim.
“Mr. Dorda survived a murder attempt last night, 25 October, 2011, at the hands of his guards in the building where he was arrested,” Adel Khalifa Dorda, a nephew and son-in-law of the Gaddafi loyalist, wrote on behalf of the Dorda family. “He was thrown off the second floor leading to several broken bones and other serious injuries.”
The nephew said authorities were forced to move Dorda to a hospital in Tripoli, where “as of now he is being held under extremely poor conditions.”
The militiaman in charge of the hospital on Thursday confirmed Dorda was injured but refused to allow a reporter to interview him. The militiaman, Sadiq Turki, gave varying accounts of how Dorda was injured, first saying he had tried to commit suicide by jumping out of a second-story window, then saying the former official had been trying to escape his detention facility.
“He’s the one who gave orders to kill and rape in Tripoli,” Turki told a reporter at the Mitiga military hospital. He declined to allow a reporter to talk to Dorda, saying, “This is confidential.”
Dorda was brought to the hospital in an ambulance on Tuesday, officials said. Doctors who treated him said he had a fractured left hip and some hematoma, or internal bleeding, in the area of the injury.
“His general condition is stable,” said a surgeon, Faraj al-Farjani, adding that Dorda was being kept in isolation in the intensive care unit.
Al-Farjani and another doctor, Yahia Moussa, said Dorda’s wounds weren’t life-threatening but were serious for a 71-year-old man. The doctors said they hadn’t been able to question Dorda about how he was injured.
Conditions at the Mitiga hospital appeared relatively good overall, and both patients from the revolutionary forces and Gaddafi’s military said they had received decent care. Doctors said, however, that there was a shortage of medicine because of the recent fighting.
Dorda had long been a high-ranking official in Gaddafi’s government, playing a role during his years at the United Nations in negotiating the deal that ended U.N. sanctions on Libya imposed after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and paving the way to a financial payout to relatives of the victims.
He went on to become the director of Libya’s foreign intelligence agency. Earlier this year, the United States and the U.N. Security Council imposed a freeze on Dorda’s financial assets and those of several other members of Gaddafi’s inner circle.
The request for help from Dorda’s nephew came hours after Martin, the U.N. special representative, expressed concern to the Security Council that the circumstances of the killing of Gaddafi and his son, Motassim, were troubling and merited investigation.
“Moammar and Motassim Gaddafi were mistreated and killed in circumstances which require investigation, and there are other disturbing reports that killings amounting to war crimes were committed on both sides in the final battle for Sirte,” Martin told the council. He said the “evidence has mounted of deliberate killings of prisoners by the Gaddafi regime during the conflict, including in its last days in Tripoli, as well as some abuses by the revolutionary fighters.”
“Such killings were contrary to the orders of the National Transitional Council, and we welcome their announcement of an investigation,” he added. “They are also within the scope of the International Commission of Inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council.”
Martin also privately told Security Council members that he was seriously concerned about the treatment of detainees, officials said.
Sheridan reported from Tripoli.