Libyan forces guarding Muammar Gaddafi’s body in a meat locker in Misrata let
members of the public view the deposed leader for a second day on Saturday.
Unlike on Friday, wounds that may hold clues as to how the deposed leader died
were covered up.
The corpse lay on a mattress on the floor of the cold
room, as it did on Friday when hundreds of members of the public filed in to see
for themselves that the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was dead. Many
photographed the body with mobile phones; others poked his belly or head and
chanted slogans and “Allahu akbar.”
Libyan PM Jibril sees elections within eight months
Gaddafi family demand bodies of ousted dictator and son
But on Saturday, the body was covered
by a blanket that left only the head exposed, hiding the bruises on the torso
and scratch marks on the chest that had earlier been visible.
reporter who viewed the body said Gaddafi’s head had been turned to the left.
That meant a bullet hole that earlier could be seen on the left side of his
face, just in front of his ear, was no longer visible.
Gaddafi’s body handed out green surgical masks to dozens of people filing in to
take a look, because of the stench of rotting flesh filling the room.
bullet hole in Gaddafi’s head, and the other wounds, could help solve the riddle
of whether, as Libya’s new rulers said, he was shot in crossfire in a battle or,
as other accounts suggest, he was killed by the fighters who caught him.
A local military commander in the city of Misrata, where the
forces which captured him took his body, said, “Overenthusiastic” fighters took
matters into their own hands when they came face to face with the man they
“We wanted to keep him alive, but the young guys; things went
out of control,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Saturday, Mahmoud Jibril confirmed he would step down after seven months as
prime minister of the Westernbacked rebel government now that the formal
declaration of “liberation” was expected on Sunday.
Jibril said progress
for Libya would need great resolution, both by interim leaders on the National
Transitional Council and by six million war-weary people.
said, “what kind of resolve the NTC will show in the next few days... And the
other thing depends mainly on the Libyan people – whether they differentiate
between the past and the future.”
The formal declaration of an end to
eight months of war and of “liberation” from four decades of Gaddafi rule was
expected to be made by NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Sunday, in the
eastern city of Benghazi.
But amid regional rivalries for honors from
Tripoli, the capital that fell in August, and from the third city, Misrata,
whose long siege has made it a symbol of resistance, there have been several
delays in the announcement. It will set a clock ticking on a plan for a new
government and constitutional assembly leading to full democracy in
Jibril reaffirmed the plan was for elections to be held in eight
months to the body that will draft a constitution. For now, though, there is
little sign of an end to the anarchic energy that is a defining characteristic
of the disparate, grassroots rebel movement that has brawled with Gaddafi’s
better armed forces for eight months across vast tracts of desert, helped by
NATO air strikes.
Few people in Libya – where thousands of people,
including civilians, were killed by Gaddafi’s forces in the rebellion – say they
are troubled by the manner of the deposed autocrat’s death.
If he was
indeed killed by his captors, it will cast doubt on the promises by Libya’s new
rulers to respect human rights and prevent reprisals. It would also embarrass
Western governments that gave their whole-hearted backing to the NTC.
dramatic minutes leading up to Gaddafi’s death were chaotic, violent and
gruesome – as testified by the grainy mobile phone footage seen by the world of
the former leader, bloodied and dazed, being dragged along by NTC
What is not captured in the footage, and is missing from
accounts of the events given by fighters who were there, is how he died and who
Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured hiding in a
storm drain outside his hometown of Sirte, but he already had blood streaming
down the side of his face and a wound close to his left ear very shortly after
he had been seized.
Government fighters hauled him onto the hood of a
Toyota pick-up truck with the intention, one of them said, of getting him
through the crowd of fellow fighters and to an ambulance parked about 500 meters
Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying “God forbids this” several
times as slaps from the crowd rain down on his head.
“This is for
Misrata, you dog,” said one man slapping him.
“Do you know right from
wrong?” Gaddafi asks.
“Shut up, you dog,” someone replies as more blows
Misrata, one of the centers of the anti- Gaddafi rebellion,
suffered months of siege and artillery bombardment at the hands of his
Another video shows Gaddafi being heaved off the hood of the
truck and dragged toward a car, then pulled down by his hair. “Keep him alive,
keep him alive!” someone shouts.
Another man in the crowd lets out a
high-pitched, hysterical scream. Gaddafi then goes out of view and gunshots ring
out. One of the fighters present said Gaddafi was in a bad way but alive when he
was put in the ambulance.
Yet the ambulance driver, Ali Jaghdoun, said
Gaddafi was dead when he picked him up and he then drove the body to
“I didn’t try to revive him, because he was already dead,”
In the cold store in Misrata, the body of one of Gaddafi’s
sons, Mo’tassim, had been moved from a location elsewhere in Misrata and placed
next to his dead father.
The circumstances leading to the death of
Mo’tassim, his father’s national security adviser who was also captured in
Sirte, are similarly murky.
A Reuters reporter was shown a oneminute
segment of mobile phone footage in which a man, who resembled Mo’tassim, was
squatting in a room. He was stripped to the waist, and smoking a
cigarette. He did not appear badly wounded.
Someone could be heard
telling him repeatedly: “Say Allahu akbar, say Allahu akbar.”
point after that, he died. When a Reuters reporter saw his body on Thursday
evening, it was laid out in a private house in Misrata. Wounds to his jaw and
part of his neck were visible.
On Saturday in the cold store, Mo’tassim’s
body was covered up to the neck with a blanket. The wounds to his jaw and neck
had been stitched up.
Later in the day, the body of a third man, Abu Bakr
Younus Jabr, was brought in and placed on a stretcher between Gaddafi and his
son. Jabr, the head of Gaddafi’s armed forces, was captured in Sirte alongside
his leader. A bandage was tied under his chin and looped over the top of his
Bullet wounds could be seen to his chest and the top of his left
arm. A Reuters reporter who was able to get close to the body said she could see
gunpowder residue around the wounds – which is often consistent with being shot
at close range.
The people queuing outside the cold store, waiting to
view the bodies, did not seem concerned about how their former leader and his
entourage died. Children were among the few dozen people waiting outside for
Asked if it would not have been better for Gaddafi to stand
trial, Abdulatif, a pilot waiting in line, said: “If he lived and was killed a
thousand times, that would still only be a trifle.”