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Libyan court sentences 45 to death for killing protesters in 2011

Justice ministry says 54 other defendants were sentenced to five years in jail, 22 were acquitted
Muammar Gaddafi (AFP/file photo)

A Libyan court on Wednesday sentenced 45 militiamen to death by firing squad for killing demonstrators in Tripoli during the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's rule, the justice ministry said.

Dozens of demonstrators were killed on 31 August 2011 when pro-government militiamen opened fire near the Abu Slim district of the capital as rebel forces closed in on the capital, eight months into a NATO-backed revolt.

The ministry said in a statement that 54 other defendants were sentenced to five years in jail, 22 were acquitted, and three others died before the verdict was reached.

Gaddafi, who had ruled the country since a 1969 coup, was killed after surrendering to anti-government fighters in October 2011 near his hometown of Sirte, south of the capital.

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After mass defections from the Libyan army, Gaddafi relied mostly on mercenaries and loyalist militants from his own tribe to fend off the NATO-backed rebels.

Libya has been wracked by violence since the 2011 uprising, with two rival authorities vying for control.

A UN-backed unity government based in Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority outside the west, while commander Khalifa Haftar has been the military figurehead for a government based in Tobruk in the east.

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