Gaddafi burial delayed for further investigation

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The Independent Online

Muammar Gaddafi's blood-streaked body has been stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre as Libyans try to keep it away from crowds as they figure out where and when to bury the hated ex-leader.

A journalist saw the body today at the shopping centre in the coastal city of Misrata, home of the fighters who killed the ousted leader a day earlier in his hometown of Sirte.

The body, stripped to the waist and wearing beige trousers, is laid on a bloodied mattress on the floor of a room-sized freezer where restaurants and stores in the centre keep perishables.

A bullet hole is visible on the left side of his head and in the centre of his chest, and dried blood streaks his arms and head.

Outside the shopping centre, hundreds of civilians from Misrata jostled to get inside for a peek at the body, shouting "God is great" and "We want to see the dog".

The makeshift provisions for the corpse - at one point it was kept in a private house on Thursday - reflected the disorganisation and confusion that has surrounded Gaddafi's death. His burial had been planned for Friday, in accordance with Islamic traditions calling for quick interment, but the interim government delayed it, saying the circumstances of his death still had to be determined.

Information minister Mahmoud Shammam also said authorities are "debating right now what the best place is to bury him".

Gaddafi was captured wounded but alive, and there have been contradictory accounts of how he received his fatal wounds - raising the question whether he was shot while in custody, something Libyan officials have denied.

New images surfaced of the 69-year-old Gaddafi being taunted and beaten by the fighters who captured him. By authorities' account, at the time the video was taken, Gaddafi would have already suffered the wounds that would kill him about 30 minutes later - shots to the head, chest and belly.

In the video, there is blood on Gaddafi's head, but none visible on his chest or belly, and he is talking and upright.