MISURATA, Libya(ANN) International calls mounted Friday for Libya’s interim leaders to provide a fuller accounting of the final moments before Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent, messy death, as new videos circulated that showed him and his son Muatassim alive, apparently while in the
custody of the former rebels.
The United Nations and two leading human rights groups called for a thorough investigation into precisely how Colonel Qaddafi, who was seen on the Internet in cellphone videos bleeding and heaving as he was manhandled by screaming fighters, wound up dead with what appeared to be bullet wounds to the head.
One video in particular was receiving heightened scrutiny on Friday because it showed a conscious Colonel Qaddafi wiping blood off the left side of his face, revealing no bullet wound. Later videos of his corpse showed a bullet wound in the same spot, adding to skepticism about the interim government’s official explanation that he was accidentally killed during a shootout with Qaddafi loyalists.
The United States, which along with other major Western powers heartily congratulated the Libyan people on Thursday as news of Colonel Qaddafi’s death was announced, also said that Libya’s post-Qaddafi leaders must furnish a detailed explanation of how he had died.
Officials with the interim government indicated that they would pursue an investigation, although senior military leaders in Misurata, where the bodies were taken, said they saw no need for one.
In Misurata, which harbors special antipathy toward Colonel Qaddafi because of his military’s vicious assault here during the struggle to oust him, there appeared to be little concern about the manner of the deaths.
At an ad hoc viewing ceremony in a shopping center at the edge of town, giddy men and children lined up to see the colonel’s body, lying on a mattress in a meat locker. All that seemed to matter was that he was gone.
“I felt joy,” said Mustafa Ali, 37, who is unemployed, as he left the meat locker. “How long have we been waiting for this? We have martyrs, and this is his penalty.”As night fell, fireworks lighted up the city’s skies.
The Transitional National Council, the shaky interim government in Tripoli, had said initially that Colonel Qaddafi would be buried on Friday in accordance with Islamic law, which generally requires a burial as soon as possible, but that the grave site had not been determined.
But Ali Tarhouni, the finance and oil minister, said the burial would be delayed pending an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Colonel Qaddafi’s death and a decision about where to bury him. Officials gave no specifics about the timing or possible location.
Mahmoud Jibril, the interim prime minister, visiting the colonel’s body in the meat locker, said the burial could take place in the next 48 hours.
The death of Colonel Qaddafi, who was found Thursday hiding in a drainpipe after two months on the run, was a moment of national catharsis in the country he had ruled for 42 years. The interim government said it would formally declare Libya’s liberation on Sunday in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolution to oust him began in February. Officials said Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the Transitional National Council, would make the proclamation.
Council officials have not said whether Colonel Qaddafi’s son Muatassim was found dead or alive. But a new video circulated Friday showing the son, too, had been captured alive.
The video showed him sitting upright, smoking a cigarette and wearing a blood-stained shirt. Reporters and photographers who saw his body said it had wounds in the neck and chest.
The whereabouts of another Qaddafi son, Seif al-Islam, who had been reported captured or wounded on Thursday, were unknown, and there were rumors that he may have fled to Niger.
Navi Pillay, the top United Nations human rights official, formally requested an investigation into Colonel Qaddafi’s death. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also urged the new Libyan authorities to investigate the killing.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington on Friday that Libya’s interim government had “pledged to provide a full accounting of what happened, what transpired leading up to his death. And we look to them to do that.”
The interim government has ignored calls by its allies for similar investigations before, quietly dropping an inquiry into the controversial killing of its top military official in July.
Muammar Gaddafi Family have demanded for a chance to bury his body that lay on display in a meat cooler after a death as brutal and chaotic as his 42-year rule on Thursday.
In a statement on a Syria-based pro-Gaddafi television station, the ousted dictator’s family asked for the bodies of Gaddafi, his son Mo’tassim, and others who were killed by fighters who overran his hometown Sirte, in order to perform a burial ceremony in accordance with Islamic customs and rules.