TRIPOLI, Libya - (AP) - The burial of slain leader Moammar Gadhafihas been delayed until the circumstances of his death can befurther examined and a decision is made about where to bury thebody, Libyan officials said Friday, as the U.N. human rights officecalled for an investigation into his death.
The transitional leadership had said it would bury the dictatorFriday in accordance with Islamic tradition. Bloody images ofGadhafi's last moments in the hands of angry captors have raisedquestions over his treatment minutes before his death. One son,Muatassim, was also killed but the fate of Gadhafi's one-time heirapparent Seif al-Islam was unclear. Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said Seif al-Islam waswounded and being held in a hospital in the city of Zlitan. ButInformation Minister Mahmoud Shammam on Friday that the son'swhereabouts were uncertain.
Shammam said Gadhafi's body was still in Misrata, where it wastaken after he was found in his hometown of Sirte, andrevolutionary forces were discussing where it should be interred.
Thursday's death of Gadhafi, two months after he was driven frompower and into hiding, decisively buries the nearly 42-year regimethat had turned the oil-rich country into an international pariahand his own personal fiefdom.
It also thrusts Libya into a new age in which its transitionalleaders must overcome deep divisions and rebuild nearly all itsinstitutions from scratch to achieve dreams of democracy.
Many Libyans awoke after a night of jubilant celebration andcelebratory gunfire with hope for the future but also concern thattheir new rulers might repeat the mistakes of the past. Khaled Almslaty, a 42-year-old clothing vendor in Tripoli, saidhe wished Gadhafi had been captured alive.
"But I believe he got what he deserved because if we prosecutedhim for the smallest of his crimes, he would be punished bydeath," he said. "Now we hope the NTC will accelerate theformation of a new government and ... won't waste time onirrelevant conflicts and competing for authority and positions."
Bloody images of Gadhafi's last moments also cast a shadow overthe celebrations, raising questions over how exactly he died. Videoon Arab television stations showed a crowd of fighters shoving andpulling the goateed, balding Gadhafi, with blood splattered on hisface and soaking his shirt.
Gadhafi struggled against them, stumbling and shouting as thefighters pushed him onto the hood of a pickup truck. One fighterheld him down, pressing on his thigh with a pair of shoes in a showof contempt.
Fighters propped him on the hood as they drove for severalmoments, apparently to parade him around in victory. "We want him alive. We want him alive," one man shouted beforeGadhafi was dragged off the hood, some fighters pulling his hair,toward an ambulance. Later footage showed fighters rolling Gadhafi's lifeless bodyover on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of bloodunder his head. His body was then paraded on a car through Misrata,a nearby city that suffered a brutal siege by regime forces duringthe eight-month civil war that eventually ousted Gadhafi. Crowds inthe streets cheered, "The blood of martyrs will not go in vain."
Libyan leaders said it appeared that Gadhafi had been caught inthe crossfire and it was unclear who fired the bullet that killedhim.
Shammam said a coroner's report showed that Gadhafi was killedby a bullet to the head and died in the ambulance on the way to afield hospital. Gadhafi was already injured from battle when he wasfound in the drainage pipe, Shammam said.
"It seems like the bullet was a stray and it could have comefrom the revolutionaries or the loyalists," Shammam said, echoingan account given by Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril the night before."The problem is everyone around the event is giving his ownstory."
Shammam said that the NTC was expecting a report from FinancialMinister Ali Tarhouni who was sent as an envoy to Misrata onThursday.
The governing National Transitional Council said interim leaderMustafa Abdul-Jalil will formally declare liberation on Saturday inthe eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolution againstGadhafi's rule began in mid-February. The NTC has always said itwill form a new interim government within a month of liberation andwill hold elections within eight months.
NATO's governing body, meanwhile, was meeting Friday to decidewhen and how to end the seven-month bombing campaign in Libya, amilitary operation whose success has helped reinvigorate the ColdWar alliance.
The U.N. Human Rights Council established an independent panelearlier this year to investigate abuses in Libya, and spokesmanRupert Colville said it would likely examine the circumstances ofthe 69-year-old leader's death. He said it was too early to saywhether the panel - which includes Canadian judge Philippe Kirsch,the first president of the International Criminal Court - wouldrecommend a formal investigation at the national or internationallevel.
"We believe there is a need for an investigation," Colvillesaid. "More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killedin some form of fighting or was executed after his capture." "The two cell phone videos that have emerged, one of him alive,and one of him dead, taken together are very disturbing," he toldreporters in Geneva.
Mohamed Sayeh, a senior member of NTC, said representatives fromthe Netherlands-based International Criminal Court would come to a"go through the paperwork."
Sayeh also says Gadhafi's body is still in Misrata, where it wastaken after his killing in Sirte. He says Gadhafi will be buriedwith respect according to Islam tradition and will not have apublic funeral. The ICC did not issue any official comments about Gadhafi, butjudges at the court would need official confirmation - most likelya DNA sample from the body - that Gadhafi is dead before they couldformally withdraw his indictment.
Gadhafi, Seif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullahal-Senoussi have been charged with crimes against humanity for thebrutal crackdown on dissent as the uprising against the regimebegan in mid-February and escalated into a civil war.
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