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Libya sentences 45 to death over 2011 killings

A file picture taken on Feb 15, 2018 shows a view of destroyed buildings along the seaside promenade of Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi. (By AFP)

A court in Libya has sentenced 45 militiamen to death by firing squad over the killing of demonstrators in the capital, Tripoli, during the 2011 uprising against longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the Justice Ministry says.

The statement, released by the ministry on Wednesday, did not give further details on the matter, but according to a Justice Ministry official reached by Reuters, the death penalties were related to killings purportedly perpetrated by forces loyal to Gaddafi near the Abu Slim district of Tripoli shortly before he was driven from the capital and toppled.

The statement further said that 54 other defendants received prison terms of five years, 22 others were acquitted, and three others had died before the verdicts were reached.

The country has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when Gaddafi, who had ruled the country since a 1969 coup, was toppled from power amid an uprising and a NATO military intervention.

His ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant groups.

In addition to political rivalries, the rise of extremism and the presence of terrorist groups in the oil-rich country have also culminated in the deterioration of living conditions, including in the form of power cuts, exorbitant prices, and a lack of security.

The country has had two rival governments since mid-2014, when militants overran Tripoli and forced the parliament to flee to the remote east. The two governments reached a consensus on the formation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in December 2015, after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order to the country.

Libya, however, continues to be gripped by political strife and violence. An agreement reached in Paris in May to hold elections by the end of this year has done little to ease tensions.

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