I was going crazy, says Briton beaten and held for months in Libya cell

Source: thisislondon.co.uk

A British businessman has been reunited with his family after he was snatched off the street in Libya and held captive for almost six months.

Henry Djaba, 46, from Bayswater, was held in a windowless cell where his captors threatened to hang him upside down and beat him to death. He says he was assaulted, deprived of sleep, forced to take drugs and made to think he would “permanently disappear”.

Human rights charities discovered Mr Djaba was being held without charge, or access to either lawyers or British embassy staff.

Libyan security services have a reputation for extra-judicial kidnapping, with hundreds of people disappearing each year. Mr Djaba's case raises questions about Britain's strengthening relationship with the country.

He does not believe enough was done by the Foreign Office to secure his release. The company director was in Tripoli to broker the sale of two hotels when he was snatched on March 31. He and his girlfriend were bundled into a car by four gunmen and blindfolded. They were separated and he was driven to a building where he was put in a cell. He said: “I was petrified. I was saying I'm a British citizen, I want you to call the embassy'.”

At one point during his ordeal prisoners kept in other cells disappeared, with only their clothes left behind. Mr Djaba said: “Who would go out of that place naked? They wanted to make me feel like I was next. I was going crazy and I had a mini breakdown.”

He was accused of being a spy, running a prostitution ring and embezzling £300,000, but never questioned and never told he was under arrest. His captors tried to make him sign a confession in Arabic, a language he does not understand.

His sister, Georgette Djaba, a 49-year-old lawyer who campaigned for his release, said: “The only thing that saved my brother is that he has a British passport.” Mr Djaba was eventually allowed to fly home, arriving late on Saturday night. He thinks he may have been imprisoned because of a government official's jealousy over his relationship with his girlfriend.

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