The UN Human Rights Office and Amnesty International are calling for a probe into exactly how Muammar Gaddafi died. New authorities say the burial of his body will be delayed so the investigation can be conducted.
Concerns over what may be an unlawful killing of a prisoner were raised after the former Libyan leader was shot to death in his hometown Sirte, which anti-Gaddafi forces captured on Thursday.
The circumstances of the death are unclear. Amateur video footage suggests that Gaddafi was captured alive. A post mortem examination of the body also confirmed that Gaddafi was alive at the moment of his capture, said Dr. Ibrahim Tika, who performed the procedure.
“Gaddafi was arrested while he was alive but he was killed later. There was a bullet and that was the primary reason for his death, it penetrated his gut,” he told Al Arabiya television. “Then there was another bullet in the head that went in and out of his head.”
Different versions of what happened next have been voiced by the new Libyan authorities.
Initial reports said Gaddafi was beaten and shot dead by an 18-year-old National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter Ahmed Shaibani. Later, another version was voiced by the NTC, which says the convoy, which was taking Gaddafi to Misrata, was attacked by loyalists, and the colonel was killed in the firefight.
“It is unclear how he died. There is a need for an investigation,” UN Human Rights Office spokesman Rupert Colville told a media briefing in Geneva on Friday.
“It is a fundamental principle of international law that people accused of serious crimes should, if possible, be tried. Summary executions are strictly illegal. It is different if someone is killed in combat,” he told Reuters Television.
The statements are mirrored by an earlier statement by Amnesty International, which said the revolutionary forces must provide a full account of the events which resulted in Gaddafi’s death.
The London-based rights group said Thursday it was essential to conduct “a full, independent and impartial inquiry to establish the circumstances of Colonel Gaddafi’s death.”
Muammar Gaddafi’s motorcade was stopped from leaving the fallen Sirte by a NATO air strike. The wounded ousted dictator was then found by the attackers of the city. His son Motassim was with him and is also now dead.
Dignified burial promised
The burial of Muammar Gaddafi will be delayed so that his body could be examined by the International Criminal Court, the NTC said.
Mohamed Sayeh, a senior member of the governing body added that Gaddafi will be buried with respect according to Islamic tradition and will not have a public funeral, reports AP.
At the moment the body has been stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center as Libyans attempt to keep it away from crowds.
The body, stripped to the waist and wearing beige trousers, is laid on a mattress on the floor of a huge freezer in which restaurants and stores in the center keep perishables. There is a bullet hole clearly visible on the left side of his head and in the chest.
Earlier, the fighters in Misrata said the body would be buried within 24 hours.
“He will receive his right like any Muslim. His body will be washed and treated with dignity. I expect he will be buried in a Muslim cemetery within 24 hours,” commander Abdul-Salam Eleiwa said in Misrata, as cited by Reuters.
The place of the future burial has not been set yet, the offiсer added. The news agency says there appears to be disagreement between the fighters of Misrata, who captured Sirte with NATO’s help, and the Tripoli-based NTC on the issue.
The two groups have been united by their opposition to Gaddafi, but otherwise have different interests in the future of Libya.