Alive or dead, the Gaddafis divide their enemies

Kim Sengupta, in Misrata, reports on the wrangling over the fate of the former leader's body, while Jane Merrick looks at the potential threat posed by the only missing family member

Misrata

Father and son had been reunited as exhibits. The bodies of Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi on display on the floor of a refrigerated meat locker were viewed by hundreds of people, including families with children, who filed past the grim trophies of Libya's revolution.

Calls mounted internationally yesterday for an investigation into the killings. But that was of little concern to those who queued up outside the gate of the market complex where they were being kept in Misrata.

Some carried mementos of what lay behind such hatred, photographs of those killed and "disappeared". Abbas Mohammed Bishteta came with a photograph of his father, who was taken away by the secret police 28 years ago. "I was just a boy at the time, I remember the night they came, everyone was frightened, my mother was crying," he said in a quiet voice.

The former opposition which runs the provisional government issued conflicting statements, a hallmark of the disparate group bound by the shared aim of getting rid of Gaddafi. The Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, paid a visit to the bodies. He then declared, apparently looking at autopsy notes, that the former leader had been detained, and was killed in crossfire when his loyalist troops tried to rescue him. The explanation was risible and, with the UN, human rights groups and governments, including Russia and the US, condemning the killings, the Transitional National Council announced that a post-mortem examination would be carried out after all. Ali Tarhouni, the oil and energy minister, said he had reassured international partners that there would be an investigation with forensic tests.

That was yesterday morning. But during the day, Fathi Bashaga, a senior official in Misrata, which endured a bitter siege by the regime, ruled out an autopsy. He stated: "At least four groups of doctors have examined the body and determined the cause of death was a bullet to the head and stomach. As far as we are concerned, there is no need to cut his body up."

Last night Mr Jibril said he wished Gaddafi had not been killed and instead had been put on trial for his crimes. "To be honest with you at the personal level I wish he was alive. I want to know why he did this to the Libyan people."

Rebel fighters who were present when Gaddafi was captured at Sirte, the dictator's birthplace, describe the rebels' initial elation, followed by their rage and violence.

Hassan Ali Mansouri, a 23-year-old student, recalled, "He was beaten pretty badly and he could hardly walk by himself. There were a lot of injuries to his body and I do not know if he would have survived. We tried to get him to an ambulance and then lost him. There were shots fired, and then a couple of single shots. That was it."

The fate of Gaddafi may have been caught in footage that has emerged. He is shown slumped and being dragged along, blows raining down on his head. He cries: "God forbids this, do you not know the difference between right and wrong?" There is a shout of "Shut up, you dog!" followed by "Allah Hu Akhbar" and a pistol is pointed at his head. The next frame is of him lying on the ground, seemingly lifeless.

Mutassim, the rebels have claimed, was also killed in battle. But footage has also emerged of him captured alive, smoking a cigarette and then lying down with an arm over his face. The corpse produced in Misrata had deep wounds to the chest and neck.

There remains the question of what happens to the corpses. It was announced last night that the provisional government had agreed to hand Colonel Gaddafi's body over to his family. A spokesman said: "It is in the interests of his family and the whole country to bury Gaddafi in a secret place but this has not been decided yet." There is concern that his grave could become a shrine for loyalists.

The potential threat posed by the only missing family member

The only member of the Gaddafi family unaccounted for after the fall of Sirte is the one who could pose the most difficulties for the British Royal Family and the last Labour government: Saif al-Islam.

Now wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, Colonel Gaddafi's second-eldest son was once the darling of the British establishment: known personally to Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson, the Duke of York and Nat Rothschild, and a donor to the London School of Economics, who gave him a PhD.

Last night his whereabouts were unknown. One report claimed he had been wounded and was being held at a hospital in Zlitan, although this was denied by hospital officials. Another said he was heading to Niger after fleeing from Sirte when the convoy of vehicles carrying his father came under attack by French jets. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, said yesterday he had no knowledge of Saif's location. Unconfirmed reports say that Gaddafi loyalists in Libya have sworn fealty to Saif in the wake of his father's death.

Saif is now the prize target for capture and trial at The Hague. If he is ever caught, the 39-year-old playboy who owned a mansion in Hampstead may use his appearance in the dock to maximise discomfort for Britain.

Following the fall of Tripoli, documents recovered from the British embassy included a letter from Mr Blair to Saif. It addressed him as "Dear Engineer Saif" before praising his "interesting" PhD thesis. The Libyan later described Mr Blair as a "personal family friend". The pair met in 2006, during the rapprochement between Britain and Libya, which began in 2003 when MI6 and the CIA persuaded Gaddafi Snr to give up his chemical and biological weapons.

The warming of relations ultimately led to the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in August 2009. Saif's intimate knowledge of both British and Libyan governments could shed light on the murky details of this episode.

Saif was also invited by Prince Andrew, the UK's former trade ambassador, to stay at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace – leaving open the prospect of the private and colourful conversations of royals spilling into the utilitarian surroundings of the ICC courtroom. In the summer of 2009, a year after the Yachtgate controversy involving Lord Mandelson, George Osborne and Nat Rothschild in Corfu, Saif reportedly met the Labour peer at the Rothschild manor on the Greek island. In November of that year, Lord Mandelson spent time with Saif while the Libyan was enjoying a shooting weekend at Rothschild's Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.

As Tripoli fell to the rebels in August, Saif clambered on to a pick-up truck outside the Rixos Hotel in the capital to "refute the lies" that the regime was toppled. For such a man, spilling the secrets of the establishment may prove too hard to resist.

Additional reporting: Paul Carsten

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform