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Fishermen held by Haftar in Libya under 'psychological pressure', families say

Fishing boats enter in the Mazara harbour after being held in Libya on 20 December 2020 in Mazara del Vallo, Italy. [Vincenzo Pepe/Getty Images]
Fishing boats enter in the Mazara harbour after being held in Libya on 20 December 2020 in Mazara del Vallo, Italy. [Vincenzo Pepe/Getty Images]

Relatives of the 18 foreign fishermen who were detained by the militia of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, eastern Libya, for nearly three months, revealed the ill-treatment and psychological pressure suffered by the fishermen during their confinement, Anadolu news agency reported.

Cristina Amabilino, wife of one of the detained Italian fishermen, told the news agency that the sailors were kept in a dark four-square-metre room and received one plate of food for four people to eat.

"We do not know the rest of the details, but they will inevitably appear .. I will talk to my husband about the matter when he is ready, and I will not ask him as soon as he returns, out of respect for him," she said.

She added that on the morning of 2 September she received the news of her husband's abduction in Benghazi and criticised the Italian government's delay in rescuing him and his colleagues.

"It's a shame that the government could not bring them back for so long. This is surreal, waiting for 108 days was torture," she said.

READ: Wagner to pay $304,800 to 2 Russians freed in Libya 

Tunisian Insaf Jemmali, daughter of another abducted fisherman, told Anadolu that in early September she learned that her father had been detained in Libya on charges of violating the country's waters.

Insaf denied the accusation, stressing that the fishermen had been sailing in international waters.

"On September 20, we protested in front of the Italian House of Representatives in Rome and called on the government to release the fishermen as soon as possible. We realised that this is a political issue between Haftar and Italy," she added.

Jemmali explained that the fishermen had been subjected to difficult conditions during their imprisonment in Benghazi and were transferred to four different detention facilities.

"There was no physical violence, but there was psychological pressure. They were imprisoned in a dark room and were not aware of the type of food provided to them," she added.

Last Thursday, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 18 fishermen who had been held in eastern Libya for three months on charges of trespassing on Libyan waters will be released.

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