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Anton Hammerl believed dead; much sorrow, anger

South African photographer Anton Hammerl, who'd been missing in Libya since 5 April 2011, is presumed dead. According to eyewitnesses, Hammerl was shot on that day by Gaddafi's forces in an extremely remote location in the Libyan desert and his injuries were such that he could not have survived without medical attention.
In a statement posted on the "Free Anton Hammerl" Facebook group, the Hammerl family says:

"Words are simply not enough to describe the unbelievable trauma the Hammerl family is going through. 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 Gaddafi loyalists have known Anton's fate all along and chose to cover it up. Thank you so much for your love and support."

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) released a statement this morning, Friday 20 May, in which it says it is "extremely devastated about the tragic news of the death of Anton Hammerl.

"He was a superb photographer and a brave journalist who always went out a thousand extra miles to bring home news and images to the world." joins SANEF in mourning his death and extending condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

International affairs minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane held a meeting and press conference this morning, the first with a SANEF delegation and the second with more media.

The series of tweets from Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee), Primedia Broadcasting head of news and current affairs and National Press Club chairperson, who was part of the SANEF delegation:

"Arrived at the Ministry of Int Relations. Austrian ambassador joining the meeting. #AntonHammerl
"Meeting between Sanef and Min of Int Relations underway. Austrian Amb present. Jimmy Manyi present.
"Sanef: Mondli Makhanya, Ray Hartley, Jovial Rantau, JJ Cornish, Mathata Tsedu, Femida Methar and I. Minister explaining the events.
"It's now clear: Libya lied to SA and Austria about #AntonHammerl. They said he was in their custody and was well. Damn liars.
"Minister reassures Sanef they did their best. Lots of engagement with Libya.
"Efforts to retrieve body of #AntonHammerl underway- Minister
"We must accept the explanation of Dirco. #AntonHammerl
"Misinformation from Libya, says Min of Int Relations. #AntonHammerl
"I asked the Min of Int Relations to consider expelling the Libyan ambassador. #AntonHammerl . She says the ambassador has Ambassador Mohamed Dangor went back to Tripoli specially to assist "#AntonHammerl -Minister. She says they lied for 46 days. "painful".
"If #AntonHammerl was buried, SA will try to exhume body."

For more:

Updated at 10.22am on 20 May 2011.