Family, friends celebrate life of journalist killed in Libya

Photojournalist Anton Hammerl’s body has not been returned to his family five months after his death on assignment in Libya, but his family and friends celebrated his remarkable life and career at a memorial service Thursday at St. Bride’s Church in London.

Hammerl, 41, was shot and killed by government forces near Brega in eastern Libya on April 5. Libyan authorities refused to disclose the killing–and, in fact, disseminated misleading information. It was only when three international journalists captured in the same attack were released a month and a half later that Hammerl’s fate was known.

Hammerl covered the end of apartheid in his native South Africa, coming of age professionally at a time of hope and promise. During Thursday’s “service of thanksgiving” for the journalist’s life, his colleagues told of his unique ability to cross all lines in a conflict and gain trust through his genuine desire to know all levels of a story. “Anton, quite simply, respected other people,” said Clare Morgana Gillis, one of the journalists present at Hammerl’s death. Others remembered him as a man devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife and three young children.

An online benefit for his children, featuring the sale of works by established and rising photojournalists, is online at www.friendsofanton.org.

(Reporting from London)