BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"Just days ago this was a working prison"
 real 28k

Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Inside Lebanon's 'torture' prison
Al Khiam
Prisoners now free to tell of al-Khiam prison
By Hilary Andersson in al-Khiam

Soon after the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, the guards of the notorious Khiam prison fled, leaving the prisoners free.

More than 100 men women and children had been held in appalling conditions.

Torture involved beatings, electric shocks and being hung by the arms for hours

The jail is now empty and a flag of the Lebanese Hezbollah is posted at the gates, but the prisoners' testimonies and the cells bear witness to what went on inside.

Prisoners, some jailed for over ten years without trial, were crammed into tiny, filthy spaces where they ate and slept.

They were allowed out, usually once a week for 15 to 30 minutes, to visit a walled area with no roof called "the sun room."

Punishment cells

They said they were routinely tortured for the first three months of their stay for three hours a day, three times a day.

Al Khiam prisoner
A prisoner from Al Khiam is reunited with his family

The torture, which took place in a row of interrogation rooms, would involve beatings, being prodded with live electrical cable in sensitive parts of the body, and being hung from painful positions.

Near a post in a courtyard from where the prisoners said they would be hung by their arms for hours at a time, hoods were lying on the ground.

These were put on the prisoners' heads during the torture, a stretcher laid nearby presumably in case of collapse.

The prison was also equipped with a row of punishment cells so small that it was only possible to sit in them but not lie down.

Visits by soldiers

Prisoners would be left in these for up to ten days at a time.

Throughout the jail was the stench of filth.

Prisoners crammed into cells where they lived, ate and slept

Al-Khiam was run by the SLA and Israel has always denied any involvement.

But the prisoners said Israeli soldiers would regularly visit the jail.

Some said they heard Hebrew being spoken in the interrogation cells whilst their heads were covered with the hoods.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

27 May 00 | Middle East
Lebanese return south
26 May 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon's fragile peace
24 May 00 | Middle East
UN assesses Lebanon role
23 May 00 | Middle East
Hezbollah chief warns Israel
24 May 00 | Media reports
Israeli press: Pullout recalls Saigon
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories