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Qatar deports Libyan woman who accused Gaddafi troops of rape

UN official says Qatar has violated international law in deporting Iman al-Obeidi, who is a recognised refugee.

File photo of Iman al-Obeidi at a hotel in Tripoli, where she told foreign journalists she had been assaulted by Gaddafi troops.
File photo of Iman al-Obeidi at a hotel in Tripoli, where she told foreign journalists she had been assaulted by Gaddafi troops.
Image: AP Photo/Jerome Delay/PA

A UN OFFICAL said today that the world body’s refugee agency would meet with a Libyan woman who claimed she was gang-raped by Gaddafi’s troops.

She was deported yesterday from Qatar where she had sought refuge and was flown against her will to Benghazi, the official said. Benghazi is the Libyan rebels’ de facto capital.

Speaking in Geneva, the official, Adrian Edwards, said his agency was with Iman al-Obeidi when she was taken from her Qatar hotel against her will. He said she is a recognised refugee and her deportation violated international law.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the US was “monitoring the situation” to ensure al-Obeidi’s safety and make sure she finds “appropriate asylum.”

In March, al-Obeidi rushed into Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel where all foreign correspondents are forced to stay while covering the part o Libya under Gaddafi’s control, and shouted out her story of being stopped at a a checkpoint, dragged away and gang-raped by soldiers. As she spoke emotionally and as photographers and reporters recorded her words, government minders, whose job is to escort reporters around the area, jumped her and dragged her away.

Video: Al-Obeidi is pulled away from journalists at the Rixos Hotel:

Video uploaded by GadafiChien

She disappeared for several days, then turned up in Tunisia and later Qatar. Little was heard from her until yesterday, when she was suddenly expelled from Qatar and ended up in Benghazi, the Libyan rebels’ de facto capital. No explanation was forthcoming from Qatar.

Rebel spokesman Jalal el-Gallal said al-Obeidi arrived in Benghazi by plane. “She’s welcome to stay, this is her country,” el-Gallal told The Associated Press.

Libyan authorities have alternately labeled al-Obeidi a drunk, a prostitute and a thief.

Al-Obeidi says she was targeted by Gaddafi’s troops because she is from Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. Her rape claim could not be independently verified. The Associated Press identifies only rape victims who volunteer their names.

Human rights violations are one aspect of the rebels’ complaints against the Gaddafi regime. This week a report by a UN body said it found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Gaddafi’s government, and also charged that the rebels have committed abuses.

- AP

Read: Bodies of 150 African refugees fleeing Libya discovered off Tunisian coast: report >

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