A new video of torture in Libya has surfaced on the Internet. The victim is allegedly a former supporter of ex-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. According to our Libyan Observer, this kind of vengeful brutality often goes unpunished.

The video was published on YouTube on May 16 by a user going by the name of Libya Albadeel. It was then re-posted by dozens of other users. It is impossible to establish with certainty the date at which it was shot; however, according to our Observer, such retributions remain frequent today. The video's title claims that the torture perpetrators are "militiamen" in Misrata, a coastal town located 200 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli.

WARNING: These images may shock viewers

One of our Observers in Misrata confirms that the accent of the men in the video matches that of his hometown. The men are dressed in military garb and accompanied by two teenage boys, who take turns beating the prisoner. The victim can be seen lying on the ground with his hands tied behind his back with wire (at 2'19 minutes, a guard can be seen tightening the binds.) His feet are bare, and tied to the branch of a tree. The men beat the soles of the prisoners' feet repeatedly with a branch and a rubber stick while shouting obscenities at him.

At 1'30 minutes, an off-camera voice explains the "reasons" for this vicious torture: the prisoner is allegedly a former Gaddafi supporter who made a mobile phone video of a bloody attack against Misrata rebels (the city was relentlessly bombed and ravaged by Gaddafi's troops from February to May 2011). The narrator adds that in the video he made, the prisoner can allegedly be heard saying that he wants to "break into a dozen homes and rape the women of Misrata." The video ends on footage of a man in military apparel beating the prisoner with a stick and ordering him to bark.

This is not the first time that this kind of video, which appears to show violent acts perpetrated by former rebels, has surfaced on the Internet. But in many of these videos, the victims were either black African or Berber nomads, who were targeted because they were believed to be Gaddafi's mercenaries.

"Today, those who took part in the uprising are above the law"

Abdelbassat Al Haddad is a lawyer and human rights activist in Misrata. He used to be a member of the regional transitional council set up after Gaddafi's fall, but quit because of fundamental disagreements with other members of the council.
"The mobile phone videos filmed by former Gaddafi militiamen stoked very strong sentiments in Misrata. We were surprised to see how common a practice it was: many cell phones found on the bodies of killed soldiers or militiamen showed the men boasting of the violent treatment in store for the rebels. Those soldiers were probably trying to impress their bosses by showing their determination.

Misrata will be forever scarred by many rapes inflicted on local women by former Gaddafi soldiers. Some nearby villages, like one called Tommina, suffered particularly vicious attacks: young girls were raped under the eyes of their fathers. More than the dead, Misrata men now want to avenge their daughters, sisters and wives.

"The brutality of former rebels is no different from that of Gaddafi's soldiers"

Of course, the brutality displayed by Gaddafi's soldiers does not in any way justify the actions committed in this video. As a human rights lawyer, I believe that every person is entitled to a fair trial - and the justice system must decide what punishment to inflict. Unfortunately, the brutal methods employed by former rebels are no different than that displayed by Gaddafi's soldiers. The two teenagers seen beating the prisoner in the video are proof of this.

Unfortunately, the Libyan government is doing nothing to prevent this type of abuse. On the contrary, perpetrators benefit from complete impunity, thanks to a new law that stipulates that former rebels cannot be brought to court or punished for "acts committed with the goal of ensuring the revolution's success." In other words, today, those who took part in the uprising are above the law. Anyone who criticizes them is immediately branded a Gaddafi sympathizer.

We are trying to investigate and write reports on every incident of torture reported in Misrata, no matter who the perpetrators are. We would like to establish contact with the International Criminal Court. The Libyan justice system is still very dysfunctional. It took months to rebuild the tribunal, and judges and lawyers find it difficult to work in a city where weapons are passed around like currency and police often refuse to enforce a judge's ruling. "
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira.