TRIPOLI, Libya – Libya’s new rulers said Sunday that investigators had found the site of a mass grave believed to contain human remains from what many here regard as one of Moammar Gadhafi’s signature crimes – the 1996 massacre of some 1,200 inmates at Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison.
Street demonstrations in the eastern city of Benghazi by relatives of those who died in the massacre provided a catalyst for the nationwide protest movement that erupted in February. The protests evolved into an armed insurrection that eventually toppled Gadhafi after more than 40 years of authoritarian rule.
For years, kin of those who disappeared had been pressing the government to disclose what happened to the prisoners.
On Sunday, a military spokesman for Libya’s provisional government told reporters here that the burial site appears to have been discovered – a desert tract scattered with bone fragments outside the prison complex.
The site was identified through information obtained from witnesses and former prison security guards captured after Gadhafi fled Tripoli, officials said.
Libya’s new rulers are keen to clarify what exactly happened at Abu Salim. The provisional government has said it wants to capture Gadhafi and his associates and put them on trial for crimes committed during his rule, including killings at Abu Salim.