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IFJ blasts Libya over "cruel" cover up of journalist's killing

(IFJ/IFEX) - 20 May 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Libyan authorities of withholding information about the killing of photojournalist Anton Hammerl who was shot dead by Libyan troops on 5 April. Libyan authorities maintained that he was alive and detained along with three other foreign reporters who were released on Wednesday. One of them, James Foley who works for GlobalPost, broke the news of Hammerl's death to his family in the UK.

"The Libyan authorities have shown breathtaking cruelty towards Anton's family by deliberately giving them false information that he was alive," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The devastating news of his killing has been made unbearable by the Libyan cover up of his death. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Penny Sukhraj."

According to media reports, the four reporters, Americans James Foley and Clare Morgana Gillis, Spanish photographer Manu Brabo, Nigel Chandler from Britain and South African born Anton Hammerl who lived in the UK, were attacked by the Libyan soldiers who shot at them in a remote desert location. Hammerl was critically injured and died while the other three were detained until their release this week.

The victim's family have said that "From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya we have lived in hope as the Libyan officials assured us that they had Anton," according to a statement published on the BBC website. Media reports in South Africa have also reported that the same reassurances were given to South African officials.

The IFJ says the release of the three reporters has been overshadowed by the tragic news of Hammerl's killing, the fifth confirmed journalist to die in the Libyan conflict, and shows the disregard the regime has consistently shown to the safety of journalists covering the conflict.

"The release of the three journalists is a relief to their families, colleagues and the entire journalist community," said Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "But their colleague's killing by the Libyan forces is a reminder of the ruthless regime which pays scant regard to the safety of journalists."
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