No progress in search for Hammerl remains

21 June 2011 - 13:44 By Sapa

No progress has been made in the search for SA photographer Anton Hammerl's remains in Libya, says a family spokeswoman.

Penny Sukhraj and husband Anton Hammerl. File picture.
Penny Sukhraj and husband Anton Hammerl. File picture.

"The situation is that the South Africans are with the Libyans, but there's been no progress. They have made it a priority, but there hasn't been a break-through," family friend Bronwyn Friedlander told Sapa from the United Kingdom on Tuesday, where Hammerl's wife lives.

"It's quite clear that it's not going to happen overnight."

Hammerl, who held dual South African and Austrian citizenship, was covering the conflict in Libya when he was shot by militia loyal to Gaddafi near the town of Brega.

According to American journalists Clare Gillis and James Foley and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo, Hammerl was left to die in the desert after the three were arrested.

He was shot on April 5, but news of his death arrived more than six weeks later, when the three journalists were released and told his wife they saw him being shot.

South Africa accused the Libyan government of lying about Hammerl, after it assured officials he was safe, even though it knew he had been killed.

President Jacob Zuma asked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during discussions last month to help locate Hammerl's remains.

The Star newspaper reported on Tuesday that the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team has offered to help analyse Hammerl's DNA if his body was found, because the Libyans might not have the facilities to extract DNA from bone.

A memorial service for Hammerl was planned for July 2 in Johannesburg.