* Medical charity suspends work in Misrata detention centres
* Says its staff being asked to treat torture victims
* Allegations an embarrassment for Libya's new leaders
TRIPOLI, Jan 26 Aid agency Medecins Sans
Frontieres (MSF) has halted its work in detention centres in a
Libyan city because it said its medical staff were being asked
to patch up detainees mid-way through torture sessions so they
could go back for more abuse.
Rights groups have repeatedly raised concerns about torture
being used against people, many of them sub-Saharan Africans,
suspected of having fought for Muammar Gaddafi's forces during
Libya's nine-month civil war.
The agency said it was in Misrata, about 200 km (130 miles)
east of the Libyan capital and scene of some of the fiercest
battles in the conflict, to treat war-wounded detainees but was
instead having to treat fresh wounds from torture.
"Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation
for medical care, in order to make them fit for more
interrogation," MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said in
"This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care
to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat
the same patients between torture sessions."
The agency said it has raised the issue with the authorities
in Misrata and with the national army. "No action was taken,"
said Stokes. "We have therefore come to the decision to suspend
our medical activities in the detention centres."
Reports of the mistreatment and disappearances of suspected
Gaddafi loyalists have embarrassed Libya's ruling National
Transitional Council (NTC), which has vowed to make a break with
practices under Gaddafi and respect human rights.
The allegations are also awkward for the Western powers
which backed the anti-Gaddafi rebellion and helped install
Libya's new leaders.
The NTC has appealed to its citizens not to carry out
reprisals against Gaddafi loyalists and it says it will
investigate any abuses. There was no immediate comment from the
NTC on the aid agency's allegations.
The ability of the government in Tripoli to rein in torture
is limited because, in most cases, it is carried out by locally
based militias who are outside the NTC's chain of command.
Human rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday it
had evidence of several detainees dying after being subjected to
torture, including some in Misrata.
It quoted one man who said he had been tortured earlier this
month in the headquarters of Misrata security forces.
"They took me for interrogation upstairs. Five men in plain
clothes took turns beating and whipping me," Amnesty quoted the
man as saying.
"They suspended me from the top of the door by my wrists for
about an hour and kept beating me. They also kicked me."
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing
by Christian Lowe; Edited by Richard Meares)