Rape claimant 'held in leader's compound'

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The Independent Online

The parents of a woman dragged by security men from a Tripoli hotel after alleging she had been raped by militiamen loyal to Muammar Gaddafi claimed yesterday that she was being held hostage in the Libyan leader's compound. The mother of Eman al-Obaidi received a call yesterday from an unidentified person purportedly representing the regime, the parents told Al Jazeera.

According to the victim's mother, the caller asked the family to tell Ms al-Obaidi to change the rape claim in return for her freedom and benefits, including a house or money.

The government had earlier suggested that Ms al-Obaidi's complaint was the subject of a "normal criminal investigation" and that four men had been interrogated, including the son of a high-ranking state official. The channel did not give the parents' names, or say from where they were speaking. When she burst into their hotel on Saturday, the woman told reporters she was originally from Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in eastern Libya and that was why she had been detained at a checkpoint. She was later removed by force from the hotel after a mêlée between reporters and hotel staff and plain-clothes security men.

In the interview, the mother holds the Libyan opposition flag around her shoulders and says her daughter is "a hostage, taken by the tyrants". She also pleads for help from the "youth of Tripoli".

She says her daughter "broke the barrier that no other man could break" by coming forward about her rape.