Libya investigators wrap up field probe: UN

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International investigators probing suspected war crimes in Libya have completed missions to the North African country as well as to neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

During its visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, the international commission of inquiry asked the government for information on the whereabouts of 18 journalists and sought information on 86 detainees held at El Jdaida Detention Centre during the uprising in February and March 2011.

"The Commission interviewed a number of them and has also asked for their release on humanitarian grounds," the UN human rights office said in a statement.

"The authorities promised to look into that matter with a view to releasing them in the coming days."

The team of former senior judges and lawyers also asked Libyan authorities to allow Iman al-Obeidi -- a Libyan woman who seized the headlines when she was dragged away by guards after telling foreign journalists in Tripoli that she was raped by troops -- to leave the country.

"In Libya, the Commission visited Tripoli, Zawiya, Benghazi, Tobruk and Bayda and benefitted from the cooperation of all parties concerned, representatives from the Government of Libya as well as representatives of the National Transitional Council," the statement said.

The investigators also interviewed 20 out of 76 detainees held in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, including soldiers and alleged mercenaries.

"The commission reminded the authorities of the need to treat all detainees in accordance with international standards," the UN said.

The three experts also saw other victims, witnesses, medical staff, non-governmental organizations, international agencies, visited hospitals and the sites of attacks.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council set up the investigation into suspected crimes against humanity last month after Moamer Kadhafi's regime dispatched Libya's army and air force to fire on civilians.

The commission of inquiry is due to submit its report to the council in June.

Led by former UN war crimes investigator Cherif Bassiouni of Egypt, it also includes Jordanian lawyer Asma Khader and Canadian Philippe Kirsch, a former judge and president of the International Criminal Court.

© 2011 AFP

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