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Libyan government denies rape allegations

By the CNN Wire Staff
CNN obtained a copy of a cell phone video that appears to show a woman being sexually abused.
CNN obtained a copy of a cell phone video that appears to show a woman being sexually abused.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The rebels in Libya accuse Gadhafi loyalists of raping women
  • They say videos confiscated from soldiers show rapes and torture
  • CNN obtained a cell phone video that appears to show the rape of a woman
  • The Libyan prime minister denies the charges and accuses the rebels of lying

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- The Libyan government has denied rebel allegations that Moammar Gadhafi loyalists have been raping women, despite videos captured on cell phones that appear to show sexual abuse.

The Gadhafi regime had initially not responded to CNN requests for comment on the abuse allegations but Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi said Friday at a news conference that women are "our sisters" and Libyan soldiers would not commit such heinous acts.

"This, like the other mercenaries lies, are false," al-Mahmudi said.

Rebel fighters said they have found videos of rape on cell phones confiscated from captured or killed Libyan soldiers.

CNN obtained a copy of a cell phone video that appears to show a woman being sexually abused. The person who gave the video to CNN said it was on a cell phone that was confiscated from a Gadhafi loyalist.

Rebels say cell phone videos show rape, torture

It shows two men in civilian clothes standing over a naked woman who is bent over with her face on the floor. The man standing behind her is sodomizing her with what appears to be a broomstick.

"I can't bear it! I can't bear it!" the woman cries.

"Let's push it farther," a male voice says off-camera.

"No, no, that's enough!" the woman begs.

ICC reacts to Libya rape claims
RELATED TOPICS
  • Libya
  • Moammar Gadhafi
  • War Crimes

Eventually, one of the men puts his sock-covered foot on her face. In Arab culture, that is considered a major insult. But in this case, it pales in comparison to what the victim is already enduring.

Arabic speakers who listened to the video at CNN's request said the voices have Tripoli accents. There is no date on the video and the men in it are not wearing military uniforms.

CNN has been unable to verify the video's authenticity, when it was shot, or by whom. The person who gave it to CNN asked not to be identified for fear of being punished by Libya's conservative society.

Al-Mahmudi said there was no proof that Libyan soldiers were behind the abuse. It said the perpetrators could belong to the armed gangs leading the rebellion against Gadhafi.

An opposition spokesman, however, said the video illustrated a pattern of abuse by Libyan soldiers.

"We were able to confirm that rape was used as a weapon of war, because it was systematic," rebel spokesman Abdullah al-Kabeir said.

The rebels have many videos showing other types of torture, and a few depict rape, he said. He did not know exactly how many videos there were showing abuse.

One of the most famous faces of Libya's revolution, Eman al-Obeidy, dramatically claimed in March she had been gang-raped by pro-Gadhafi forces. She has since fled the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was "deeply concerned" over the reports of wide-scale rape in Libya and called for an investigation.

"Gadhafi's security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms," she said.

CNN's Raja Razek, Amir Ahmed and Sara Sidner contributed to this report.

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