No agreement over burial plans as the hunt goes on for hated son

 

Muammar Gaddafi’s body lay in a refrigerated meat store yesterday as wrangles over his burial cast a shadow over plans by Libya’s new leaders for a formal announcement today of the country’s liberation in the aftermath of the dictator’s death.

An official of the National Transitional Council (NTC) told Reuters, which reported that a bullet wound was visible through the corpse’s curly hair, that the military and political leadership had not yet agreed whether Gaddafi should be buried in Misrata, Sirte, or elsewhere.

Some interim officials were also said to be in talks with Gaddafi’s own tribe about the possibility that the clan would arrange a secret burial to avoid his grave becoming a shrine for loyalists in the future. The body was taken to Misrata from Sirte where the dictator was killed, in increasingly disputed circumstances, on Thursday.

Showing the bare-torsoed body, lying on a mattress inside the metal-lined cold-store yesterday, a local commander, Addul-Salam Eleiwa, said: "He will get his rights, like any Muslim. His body will be washed and treated with dignity. I expect he will be buried in a Muslim cemetery within 24 hours." But interim Oil Minister, Ali Tarhouni, said he proposed delaying the burial for several days to dispel any doubts the dictator was dead. Dozens of people, many with mobile phone cameras, filed in to see it for themselves.

Meanwhile, the fate of Saif al-Islam, the dictator’s best known son, was unclear with a spate of serially conflicting reports, including that he was on his way to neighbouring Niger in a convoy of three armoured vehicles to escape the NTC forces which overran Sirte on Thursday and killed his father.

Abdul Majid Mlegta, a senior military commander, told Reuters that Gaddafi’s former security chief and brother in law Abdulla El-Senussi, believed to be already hiding in Niger had been trying to organize safe passage of the dictator’s entourage from Sirte to Niger in recent days. “We are searching for him [Saif al-Islam]. The fighters in the region are on full alert," Mr Mlegta said.

The argument over the burial did little dent to mood the popular mood of euphoria at Gaddafi’s death, with celebrations continuing into yesterday’s early hours. The NTC is expected formally to announce the final “liberation” of the country in an announcement in Benghazi today.

As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gaddafi’s death marked the start of a "new era" for the country. Nato's top commander Admiral Jim Stavridis, announced he was recommending to the Organisation’s meeting in Brussels an end to its military mission in Libya, adding it was “a good day for Nato, a great day for the people of Libya.”

But there were further calls abroad for the details of Gaddafi’s death to be investigated. The interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril’s explanation that he was caught in “crossfire” after being dragged, still clearly alive, from a drainage culvert, appeared at variance with video footage. This showed him being beaten while demanding legal rights and suggested he may have simply been shot in a summary execution.

Claudio Cordone of Amnesty International said that if Gaddafi was killed after his capture it would be a “war crime” and said the interim leadership was obliged to apply the same standards, “even to those who categorically denied it to others.”

Meanwhile Russia condemned the attack by Nato forces, which US officials acknowledged had involved one of its drones, on the convoy in which the dictator was travelling before he fled into his temporary hiding place. Serge Lavrov, the foreign minister said the attack did not conform to Nato’s mandate because “civilian life was not in danger” from the convoy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee