Libyan leaders appear to wrangle over Gaddafi burial
Misurata, Libya, Oct 21: Euphoria in Libya over the death of Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi gave way on Friday to frictions and confusion over where and when to bury the former strongman, as well as a formal request by the United Nations for an inquiry into the final moments before his violent, messy demise while in the custody of the fighters who captured him.
Libya’s Transitional National Council, the shaky interim government in Tripoli, had said initially that Colonel Gaddafi would be buried on Friday in accordance with Islamic law, which generally requires a burial within 24 hours, but that the location of the grave had not been determined, news agencies reported. But Ali Tarhouni, the minister who officially confirmed the death of Colonel Gaddafi to the council, said the burial would be delayed pending an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death and a decision about the burial site. Officials did not give specifics about the timing or possible location.
The conflicting reports about the plans for Colonel Gaddafi’s burial reflected some of the chaos and confusion that have impeded the Transitional National Council as it has struggled to unify the country since Colonel Gaddafi was toppled from power by bands of competing rebel militias two months ago.
The most fearsome of those militias, from the port city of Misurata, captured both Colonel Gaddafi and one of his sons, Muatassim, on Thursday, in Colonel Gaddafi’s hometown of Surt, the last bastion of resistance in the felled Gaddafi regime. Both were killed under circumstances that have not been fully clarified and their bodies taken here by triumphant fighters as war trophies.
The Transitional National Council has said Colonel Gaddafi was killed unintentionally in a gunfight between his captors and remaining loyalists in Surt, and has not said whether his son was found dead or alive. But a new video emerged Friday showing the son was captured alive, and cell phone videos of the father taken before and after his death, which became sensations on the Internet, suggested he had been abused and summarily executed by gunshots at close range.
Reporters and photographers who saw Muatassim’s corpse said he had been shot at least three times, with two neck wounds and one chest wound.
The corpses of father and son were stored in a meat locker in Misurata pending decisions on burial plans.
The whereabouts of another feared Qaddafi son, Seif al-Islam, remained shrouded in mystery. Unconfirmed reports that he had been captured or wounded in the chaos surrounding Surt on Thursday gave way to new rumors that he may have escaped to southern Libya and was headed toward Niger, a Libya neighbor that enjoyed close ties to the Gregime.
The new questions over Colonel Gaddafi’s final moments came as Navi Pillay, the top United Nations human rights official, formally requested in an investigation. Rupert Colville, the spokesman for Ms. Pillay, told reporters at the Human Rights Commission headquarters in Geneva that the videos showing a bloodied Colonel Gaddafi captured alive and then dead were “very disturbing.”
New questions emerged, as well, about the role of NATO warplanes in the final moments of Colonel Gaddafi’s life. Western and Libyan officials said Thursday that a strike by French warplanes operating under NATO command hit two vehicles of an 80-vehicle convoy that was attempting to flee Surt, and that it was unclear whether Colonel Gaddafi or his aides were among the occupants.
But on Friday, NATO said it destroyed at least 11 of the vehicles and that based on new information, it had learned “that Gaddafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.” Anti-Gaddafi fighters arriving soon after the attack described a scene of mass destruction, with as many as 50 bodies scattered about and the charred remains of victims still sitting in the driver’s seats of the destroyed vehicles.
NATO ambassadors were meeting in Brussels on Friday and the top commander, Adm. James G. Stavridis, said on his Facebook page that he would be recommending conclusion of the NATO operations in Libya, which were begun in March under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council resolution to protect Libyan civilians from Colonel Gaddafi’s military. The precise timetable for the phase-out was not immediately clear but is expected to happen over two to three weeks.
Admiral Stavridis said his recommendation marked “a good day for NATO. A great day for the people of Libya.”
Courtesy: New York Times
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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