A former Brighton-based reporter tried to save a rape victim from being taken away to an uncertain fate in Libya yesterday (Saturday 26 March).
A gun and knives were pulled as Lisa Holland, who now works for Sky News as a foreign affairs correspondent, stepped in to try to help the woman in Tripoli.
Miss Holland, who lived in Belmont, near the Seven Dials, and Regency Square, Brighton, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said: “In the commotion a gun was pointed towards the Sky News team in an attempt to stop them filming.”
The incident was shown on several news channels after the rape victim burst into the Rixos hotel, in the Libyan capital, as Miss Holland and other western journalists were eating breakfast.
The woman, Iman al-Obeidi, was bundled away by security officials after scuffles between the armed Libyans and western journalists.
All the reporters could do in the end was to ask: “Where are you taking her?”
Miss Holland, a former Argus reporter, was interviewing Miss Obeidi when the fracas began.
The distressed interviewee said that she had been gang-raped by government troops because she was from the rebel city of Benghazi.
A waitress then began brandishing a knife as a government minder tried to stop her speaking.
Another minder drew a gun and another waitress pulled a jacket tightly over Miss Obeidi’s head.
She had already shown journalists a cut and bruises on her right leg and marks that appeared to have been left by handcuffs.
Before being driven away under arrest, Miss Obeidi told Miss Holland: “Look what Gaddafi’s men have done to me! Look what they did! They violated my honour.
“They swore at me and they filmed me. I was alone. There was whisky. I was tied up. They peed on me.”
She said that she had been held for two days and raped by 15 men.
Initially Muammar Gaddafi’s regime tried to discredit her, saying that she was drunk, mentally unstable and a prostitute.
A spokesman later said that five men had been arrested and that Miss Obeidi was at home with her family.
While the distraught woman’s fate was unclear, Sky News reported that Miss Holland and her colleagues were unhurt during the incident.
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