Sunday Times

No closure for family


Ten years after photojourn­alist Anton Hammerl went missing in Libya, his family want answers.

Hammerl, who was living in London with his family at the time, travelled to the war-torn country in 2011 to cover the Arab Spring.

His wife, Penny, had given birth to their son, Hiro, seven weeks before his departure.

Hammerl, 41, was shot by proGaddafi forces after being targeted as part of a small group of journalist­s, including the US reporter James Foley, who was himself subsequent­ly kidnapped and murdered by Islamic State in Syria.

Hammerl was left for dead in the desert after Foley and fellow journalist­s Clare Gillis and Manu Brabo were captured, and his body has never been recovered.

The case was briefly investigat­ed as a war crime by the Internatio­nal Criminal Court, but it was dropped after the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the fall of his regime.

After years of chaos and conflict in Libya, the family hope the new interim government will be able to help them find his body.

“On the face of it we believe there is reasonable evidence to believe that Anton’s death was a war crime,” said Caoilfhion­n Gallagher QC, who is representi­ng the family.

Research into Hammerl’s death that Foley had been working on at the time of his own murder had been supplied to the campaign.

“This wasn’t journalist­s just caught in a crossfire. They were identifiab­le as civilians and journalist­s when they were targeted and Anton was killed during an enforced abduction.”

Hammerl had been covering the conflict between pro-regime and anti-Gaddafi forces when the group he was with came under fire from Libyan soldiers in a remote desert location near

Brega on April 5 2011.

Initially the family were led to believe by Libyan officials that all four journalist­s had been captured, and it was only six and a half weeks later, when the survivors were released, that it was revealed Hammerl had been killed and his body left in the desert.

Since his death there has been sporadic and vague informatio­n about the location of his body, with a suggestion in 2012 that a body matching his descriptio­n had been found in a mass grave of 170 people and DNA samples had been taken but never delivered for processing.

Now the family hope they will finally get the answers they so desperatel­y seek.

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