These migrants were seen at the Njila detention center after fleeing a camp near Libya's Tripoli airport amid violence between rivaling groups | Photo: EPA/STR
These migrants were seen at the Njila detention center after fleeing a camp near Libya's Tripoli airport amid violence between rivaling groups | Photo: EPA/STR

Dozens of migrants who were imprisoned at a detention camp in Libya have shared their personal testimony of torture and violence at the hands of three men who were arrested on Monday in Messina. The accused are currently being held in pre-trial detention.

Three men suspected of torturing migrants at a detention camp in Libya were arrested by the Palermo anti-mafia squad in Messina on Monday. Their alleged victims have come forward with reports recounting the horrifying tortures they had to undergo.

One of the migrants who was imprisoned at the detention camp in Zawiya recounted that all the women in the camp were systematically and violently raped by two Libyans and three Nigerians who were in charge of managing the structure.

"We were locked up. The two Libyans and one Nigerian were armed with submachine guns, while the other two Nigerians had two clubs. Living conditions inside the structure were unspeakable. They gave us seawater to drink, and every once in a while, hard bread," the migrant, who wanted to remain anonymous, recalled, adding that while the women suffered sexual abuse, the men were "beaten in order to make our relatives pay money in exchange for our release. 

"They gave us a phone that we had to use to contact them to tell them the terms of payment. During my imprisonment, I saw the organizers shoot and kill two migrants who were trying to escape". 

Beaten and tortured to death

Another victim highlighted that all the migrants were divided into groups by their nationality and gender: "The women were put all together, while we men were divided by nationality. I was with the Cameroonians. Living conditions in the prison were hard. They gave us something to eat only once a day and it wasn't enough for our hunger.

"Every day, in turns, we were brutally beaten and tortured with electricity by our jailers. They were ruthless."

The migrant, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the camp was managed by a Libyan national called Ossama: "He wore civilian clothes and always had a gun with him. I saw many people die, in particular two brothers from Guinea who died from the wounds they suffered in the camp."

"With me inside that prison was my sister Nadege, who unfortunately died there for an untreated illness. My sister had her two daughters aged seven and ten with her, and they are still in detention in Libya. I saw many women be violently raped by Ossama and his followers," the migrant said.

Inhumane conditions

Agrigento prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio meanwhile spoke about the investigation that resulted in the arrest of the three men in Messina on Monday: "The investigation that brought the arrest of the three suspected jailers of a Libyan concentration camp confirmed the inhumane living conditions inside the Libyan detention warehouses, and (this reaffirmed) the need to act also on an international level to protect the most basic human rights and to stop the crimes that are taking shape as crimes against humanity more and more each day," Patronaggio said.

The probe into the camp guards was launched in Agrigento after a group of migrants disembarked in Lampedusa and told of the torture they had suffered in Libya. The investigation was then transferred to the Palermo anti-mafia squad under the jurisdiction of the district attorney's office, as the suspects are also accused of associating to commit trafficking-related crimes.

More articles