Conflict & Justice

Slain photographer's wife asks Libya for help


Libyan loyalist forces' bombs explode on rebels position on April 5, 2011 near the eastern oil town of Brega.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The wife of South African photographer Anton Hammerl, killed in Libya in April by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, has asked the Libyan people for help in finding her husband's body.

Hammerl was shot dead in the desert outside Brega, where he had traveled near the frontline with other foreign journalists including GlobalPost correspondent James Foley.

Foley, along with journalists Manu Brabo and Clare Morgana Gillis, was detained for more than six weeks. Only after their release did Hammerl's family learn of his April 5 death, having been repeatedly told by the Gaddafi regime that he was still alive.

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Penny Sukhraj-Hammerl on Sunday posted an emotional plea asking Libyans to help find her husband's body, "to please be our hearts, eyes and ears in our search for the whereabouts of Anton’s remains."

"Dear people of Libya, on 5th November it will be seven months since our lives became inextricably linked with your struggle for liberation," Sukhraj-Hammerl wrote in a letter posted on Facebook.

"I know your fight for freedom has come at a huge cost and immeasurably broken the lives of far too many families, who have been cruelly robbed of their brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters," she wrote. "And there are many of you, who like us, are in anguish as your loved ones remains have not been returned to you."

Sukhraj-Hammerl said in her letter that while Gaddafi was given last rites and a secret burial in the desert, "we have been denied the basic comfort and dignity of burying our dead who had led honorable lives."

"Our thoughts are of Libya every day, trying to reach out to my husband, not knowing where his body is. We cannot rest until Anton is given a proper burial at a site that will become a place where his children can come to pay tribute to their brave father," she wrote.

Sukhraj-Hammerl said she hoped to one day visit Libya with her family, including children Aurora, Neo and Hiro, "to celebrate your liberty, but to also find our own sense of peace and visit the place in the desert where my beloved husband fell."