Gadafi"s prisoner: “I still can’t believe I’m free”

“Every day it’s getting a little bit better in Tripoli”, Ashraf Hamed speaks to Publimetro reporter in telephone conversation about the situation in the capital of Libya. Yet, his home has to do without water and electricity for days.

Por Ruben Eg

“There has been no water for four days. Once in a while we have electricity. The National Transitional Council promise that will try to do everything to solve the problems as quickly as possible. They try their best, but I think they can be better organised.”

Hamed works for an international phone company. “Tripoli is like a large prison”, he told Publimetro three months ago when he stayed in Tunisia for a couple of days for his work. At his return home, he was arrested at the border and locked up in the Ain Zara prison in Tripoli.

On Monday 22th of August, when the rebels took over the city, he was released. He spent 91 days in prison. “Life in prison was very bad. There were only political prisoners in there. We were not beaten or abused, but we barely got food and water. Every day they turned on the tap for nine minutes and that was it. I didn’t see other prisoners, only in the cells opposite of mine. I can’t describe how I felt when the rebels stood in front of my door. All the guards had already run away, but it wasn’t until I saw the rebels that I could believe they actually had arrived in Tripoli. Even until now, I can’t believe I’m free. The feeling of freedom is amazing.”

One week after the rebels had taken over Tripoli, the city isn’t fully under control yet. “In some parts of the city, the situation is really bad”, says Hamed. He himself was shot shortly after his release by a sniper. “I was shot in the leg when I walked on the streets at night. It’s not that bad, but I can’t leave my house.” According to Hamed the shops in many areas are open again during the day. “But in the evening, everything is closed, because it’s not safe. People don’t go to their work yet, because they’re afraid to cross the city. Only doctors and nurses go to their work.”

“Horrible”, describes Hamed the situation in the bulging hospitals in Tripoli. “There aren’t enough doctors and medicine. Because it’s so dangerous here, some injured are being brought to Tunisia, sometimes even by car.” Only the arrest of Muammar Gaddafi can end the fights in Tripoli, thinks Hamed. “The problem is that nobody knows where he is. It is said that he has fled to Algeria or that he is in the city of Sirte. The rebels are looking for him everywhere. In Tripoli there are not many places left where Gaddafi can hide.” 

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