A woman who stormed into a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists were staying and accused Libyan soldiers of raping her is to be charged with defamation.

“Accusing someone of a sex crime in a conservative society like ours is a very serious matter,” government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told AFP.

“She gave the names of the people she accused of raping her and they have lodged a complaint for defamation and calumny against her.”

He said the affair was “still under investigation” and insisted that the woman, Iman al-Obeidi, was still at liberty “awaiting the outcome of the inquiries”.

Al-Obeidi achieved worldwide celebrity after footage of her storming into the Rixos hotel at breakfast time on Saturday and throwing open her coat to reveal scars and bruises on her body, was posted on the internet.

As she screamed: “Film me, film me, show the whole world all they did to me,” she was dragged off by security guards amid scenes of mayhem while journalists who tried to intervene were shoved aside.

She told of being stopped at a Tripoli checkpoint because she was from the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi. “They tied me up and abused me for two days,” she said.

The woman was bundled into a car before she could answer journalists’ questions, and later Ibrahim said she was taken to hospital for checks on her mental health.

“According to our information she was drunk,” he said at the time. “We are trying to find out who she is, who her family is and whether she was really ill-treated or if it was all just fantasy.”

He added that the woman’s “physical safety” would be assured.

She was later released and on Monday Ibrahim told AFP: “The girl has been freed but the prosecution is still questioning her to determine the circumstances (of her claim). It is a criminal affair, not political.”

According to Ibrahim the investigation was continuing as some of the troops had lodged a complaint for defamation and because “she has refused to undergo medical examination” to prove she had been raped.

Amnesty International urged Libyan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into Obeidi’s claims.

“Iman al-Obeidi’s allegations are stomach-churning,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

“The Libyan authorities must immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation and bring those responsible to justice if the allegations are well-founded,” Smart said in a statement.

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