29 Mar 2011

Libyan woman faces charges after rape claims

Eman al-Obeidi, the woman who accused Gaddafi’s men of raping her, now faces criminal charges, according to the Libyan Government. A spokesman told Channel 4 News the “accuser was now the accused”.

Libyan woman Eman al-Obeidi burst into a hotel full of journalists on Saturday claiming she had been raped and beaten by Gaddafi’s men.

A scuffle between journalists and Government minders followed. Ms Obeidi, who was shouting and crying, was eventually driven away by Gaddafi’s officials.

The Government said on Sunday she had been released and was with her family.

But on Tuesday morning there was an unexpected development. A Libyan Government spokesman told Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman that Eman al-Obeidi had committed a crime by revealing the names of the men she accused of raping her.

Moussa Ibrahim said the “accuser had now become the accused”.

Ibrahim said he was unclear whether she was with her family or being questioned in custody.

Eman al-Obeidi made her dramatic entrance as everyone was having breakfast writes Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller.

She started screaming: "Look what Gaddafi's men have done to me". Everyone in the room just froze.

We saw a government minder draw a gun from inside his jacket.

Read more: A Libyan woman's cry for help in a Tripoli hotel

Libya: Eman al-Obeidi told journalists in a Tripoli hotel she had been raped by Gaddafi's men (Reuters)

Accusations of bribery

In a separate development Eman al-Obeidi’s mother, Aisha Ahmad, told journalists she had been contacted by the authorities about her daughter and how she could be freed.

“Last night they called from Gaddafi’s compound and asked me to convince my daughter to change what she said, and we will set her free immediately and you can take anything you and your children would ask for,” she said.

“Money, new home, just ask your daughter to change what she has said. I told my daughter, keep silent,” she said, holding a picture of Obaidi to the camera.

It was not immediately clear when the interview was filmed.

Read more in the Channel 4 News Special Report on Libya

Ahmad said Ms Obeidi had been “mistreated by those criminals and cheaters, Gaddafi and his followers”.

“Eman was kidnapped in front of the camera,” she said. “She was trying to appear to the world, she wanted to tell them what was happening in Misrata, in Benghazi and the east. She wanted to reveal that.”

Wadad Omar, who said she was her cousin, said on Sunday that Ms Obeidi was first arrested after taking part in a protest in the early days of the uprising in the western city of Zawiyah. The revolt erupted in mid-February.

Residents in Benghazi, bastion of the insurgency against Gaddafi, staged a demonstration in support of Ms Obeidi on Sunday.

Watch: Jonathan Miller’s report on Eman Al-Obeidi on Saturday