- "Nine bodies were discovered and exhumed on Sunday," the statement said, "at a site suspected of containing mass graves, in the town of Tarhuna."
- On June 11, the UN said it was “horrified” by information about the discovery of mass graves in the Tarhouna region.
- The ICC warned on June 22 that it “would not hesitate” to expand the field of their investigations into the recent discovery of these mass graves.
At least nine bodies have been discovered in a new mass grave in the city of Tarhouna, western Libya. The announcement was made today by the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), recognized by the UN. Pro-GNA forces posted a statement to that effect on Facebook.
“Nine bodies were discovered and exhumed on Sunday,” the statement said, “at a site suspected of containing mass graves, in the town of Tarhuna,” The statement added that authorities were still searching for other potential mass graves “left by the Al-Kani criminal gangs, a pro-Haftar militia.”
After launching an offensive on GNA headquarters in April 2019, the troops of Marshal Haftar , the East Libyan strongman, began to retreat on the ground a month ago, following several military setbacks. On June 5, forces loyal to the GNA expelled rival troops from Tarhouna (65 kilometers southeast of Tripoli), Haftar’s last bastion in the west.
Since April 2019, hundreds of people, including numerous civilians, have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced in Libya, an oil rich North African state. Libya skidded into chaos following the overthrow and subsequent killing of its then-leader, dictator Muammar Gaddafi. NATO subsequently intervened in the internal revolt in 2011.
On June 11, the UN said it was “horrified” by information about the discovery of mass graves in the Tarhouna region. After starting a series of inquiries about Libya in March 2011, the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned on June 22– through its prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda– that it “would not hesitate” to expand the field of their investigations into the recent discovery of these mass graves.
“My Office has received credible information regarding eleven alleged mass graves containing men, women and children,” said Bensouda’s statement last week. “These findings may constitute evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
The statement continued, “I call on the Libyan authorities to take all the necessary measures to protect and secure the mass grave sites and to ensure that all actions taken in this regard are conducted in a manner that will not prejudice future investigations.”
On June 22, the UN Human Rights Council adopted in parallel a resolution calling for the sending to Libya of an “inquiry mission” responsible for documenting the abuses committed in the North African country since 2016.
Early this months, Libya’s unity government, backed by the UN, began overpowering Haftar’s forces after it assumed full control of Tripoli and its suburbs. The take over followed more than a year of fighting with the strongman’s Forces.
“Our heroic forces have full control of Greater Tripoli right up to the city limits,” Mohamad Gnounou, spokesman for the forces of the GNA, said then via a Facebook post. A day before the capital city take over, the GNA forces had taken over the civilian airport after more than a year of Haftar’s control of the same.