The family of South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl has announced on Facebook that he "was shot by Qaddafi's forces in an extremely remote location in the Libyan desert" on April 5. The statement continues, "According to eyewitnesses, his injuries were such that he could not have survived without medical attention."
The announcement provided no details, but The New York Times has reported that the eyewitnesses to the shooting were two other journalists--james Foley and Clare Morgana Gillis--who were with Hammerl when he was shot.
They were detained April 5 by Libyan government forces, and finally released on Wednesday. They reportedly told Hammerl's wife after their release that Hammerl had been shot in the stomach when the journalists came under fire. Hammerl called for help. Foley asked him if he was OK, and he said he was not. "When they [Foley and Gills] called out to him, there was no response," the Times reports.
They were captured and didn't see Hammerl again. They told Hammerl's wife yesterday that "there was no hope that he would have survived," according to the Times.
Shortly after Hammerl went missing, Libyan authorities reportedly told the South African government that they had detained the photographer along with Foley, Gillis, and another photographer, Spaniard Manu Brabo.
In late April, when Gillis, Foley, and Brabo were finally allowed to contact their families from prisons in Tripoli--but Hammerl's family heard nothing from him--his friends, family and colleagues grew increasingly worried. Gillis reportedly told her family at the time that she and Foley had not been with Hammerl when they were detained, which raised more urgent questions about Hammerl's whereabouts and condition.
Pressed by reporters last month about whether the South African government had proof that Hammerl was still alive, the South African minister of International Relations and Co-operation said "Yes."
Yesterday, after Libya released Gillis, Foley, Brabo, and another British reporter, Libyan officials denied holding Hammerl, and said they had no knowledge of his whereabouts. A South African government spokesman also backed away from previous statements that South Africa's International Relations ministry had proof that Hammerl was still alive.
In announcing his death, Hammerl's family said, "From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya we have lived in hope as the Libyan officials assured us that they had Anton. It is intolerably cruel that Qaddafi loyalists have known Anton’s fate all along and chose to cover it up."
Hammerl, who was 41 years old, is survived by his wife, Penny Sukhraj, and their two children. Hammerl was a former picture editor and chief photographer for The Saturday Star in Johannesburg. He lived most recently with his family in London, and in late March, went as a freelancer to cover the uprising in Libya against long-time leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.
Anton Hammerl Still Missing After Libya Releases Other Journalists