Questions About Gadhafi’s Death Delay Burial


Plans to bury the body of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are on hold, while separately, the United Nations and rights groups are raising questions about how he died.

Libyan provisional government officials debated Friday what to do with Gadhafi’s body. Reuters reported it is being kept in a cold locker pending a decision.

Gadhafi was killed Thursday after fighters loyal to the National Transitional Council captured him in a drainage pipe in his hometown of Sirte.

Cell phone video shows NTC fighters carrying a wounded and bleeding Gadhafi shortly before he died. Later images showed his body with apparent gunshot wounds to his head.

The uncertainty over his death has raised the possibility of an International Criminal Court probe.

Spokesman Rupert Colville with the U.N. human rights office said Friday the circumstances surrounding Gadhafi’s death are “unclear” and that videos showing his demise are “disturbing.

Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said Gadhafi was pulled from a hiding place in a sewage pipe and later mortally wounded in crossfire between pro- and anti-Gadhafi fighters.

Other officials said he was beaten and then killed.

NATO said Friday Gadhafi and his entourage were part of a heavily armed convoy targeted by NATO aircraft as it tried to force its way out of Sirte.

The NATO statement said its warplanes hit 11 of the 75 vehicles, forcing them to scatter. It said NATO officials did not know at the time that Gadhafi was in the convoy but that the airstrikes likely contributed to his capture.

Libyan officials said Thursday’s fighting in Sirte also killed one of Gadhafi’s sons, Mutassim, and longtime defense chief Abu Baker Younis. But questions remain about the fate of another of Gadhafi’s sons, Seif al-Islam.

There have been conflicting reports that Seif was surrounded, captured or killed in a village near Sirte. On Friday, an NTC military spokesman told reporters that Seif was mortally wounded and dying in a hospital in Zlitan.

Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani said hospital officials told him late Thursday that Seif was dying and that by now he may be “out of this world like his father.”

Gadhafi had ruled Libya for more than four decades when a rebellion began in February in the eastern city of Benghazi and then spread across the country.

NTC officials say the interim government will formally announce Libya’s liberation from Gadhafi’s rule on Saturday and begin talks on a government transition.

NATO representatives are meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss an end to their more than six-month air campaign over Libya. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Gadhafi’s death means the NATO operation is “coming to its end.”


The VOA is the Voice of America

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