Italy arrests three on suspicion of torture


Italian prosecutors ordered the arrest of three people suspected of torturing migrants in a Libyan detention centre.

The men, a 22-year-old Guinean and two Egyptians aged 26 and 24, are believed to be part of a group that kidnapped and mistreated dozens of people, the judicial order seen by Reuters said.

Prosecutors collected testimony from migrants in the former military base Zawyia, who said they recognised their former jailers in a migrant registration centre in Sicily.

“I was beaten several times. I suffered real torture that left scars on my body… I was whipped with electric wires,” a migrant told magistrates, according to the judicial document.

The migrants said the prison was surrounded by high walls and gated at the entrance. People were separated according to sex or ethnic group and guarded by armed men.

The head of the centre was described as a short, balding Libyan man Ossama, feared for his brutality.

“Ossama is the most ruthless due to the torture practised, he was responsible for two murders of migrants,” another migrant told investigators.

Women were systematically raped and prisoners were allowed to call families and ask for payment in return for freedom. Those who did not pay were either killed or sold to smugglers.

Aid workers and rights groups have long denounced Libyan detention centres for violence and appealed for their closure.

The centres continue to operate, taking in new arrivals from boats intercepted by Libya’s EU-backed coastguard.

“This investigation confirms inhumane living conditions in Libya’s so-called detention centres and the need to act, including at international level,” said Luigi Patronaggio, chief prosecutor of Agrigento.