BENGHAZI, Libya — Libya’s interim government, under mounting international pressure, said Monday that it will request an investigation of the death of Moammar Gaddafi, but authorities continued to insist that the former leader was not executed by revolutionary forces.
Speaking a day after declaring the country officially “liberated” from Gaddafi’s four-decade rule, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the Transitional National Council, said the interim governing body has formed a committee to decide what to do with the corpse. A wounded Gaddafi was captured Thursday while trying to hide in a drainage pipe a few miles west of his final stronghold, Sirte. His body turned up hours later with a gunshot to the head.
WARNING: Graphic video. Al-Jazeera video shows the deposed Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi, bloodied and wounded but still alive. (Oct. 20)
WARNING: graphic video. Al-Jazeera TV showed footage of a man resembling Moammar Gaddafi lying dead or severely wounded. The video comes as Libyan leaders have informed the U.S. that Gaddafi is dead. (Oct. 20)
The saga of what to do with Gaddafi’s body finally appeared to have come to an end Tuesday, after days in which the body was displayed in a frozen-food locker in the city of Misurata as thousands of people filed by to gape. A military spokesman in the city told the Associated Press that the bodies of Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and a top aide were buried at a secret location at dawn, with a few relatives and officials in attendance.
Because Gaddafi’s death was so popular in Libya, an impartial investigation of it is considered highly unlikely. Abdel Jalil did not give any details about who will conduct the inquiry.
Abdel Jalil, a justice minister under Gaddafi who is now effectively Libya’s interim president, also assured the international community on Monday that “we are moderate Muslims.” But he refused to back down from his surprise announcement Sunday that the country’s new laws will permit polygamy and ban the charging of interest on loans.
That declaration signaled that the anti-Gaddafi forces may steer their new democracy toward stricter Islamic rule. Such a move may cause concern in the NATO countries whose air campaign crippled Gaddafi’s forces and facilitated the revolutionaries’ victory. Confusion reigned Monday over exactly what kind of laws might be adopted, and the country appeared set for an extended debate on the issue.
In a news conference, Abdel Jalil continued to insist that Gaddafi was shot in crossfire, but he also suggested an alternative explanation: that Gaddafi was killed by loyalists to prevent him from being put on trial and implicating them in such crimes as executions, illegal arrests and corruption.
“Free Libyans were very careful and wanted Gaddafi to spend as much time as possible in prison,” he said. “Those who had an interest in his speedy death were those who supported him.”
In Misurata — where the remains of Gaddafi’s son Mutassim and former army chief, Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, were put on public display in a refrigerated meat locker along with his — officials ended the spectacle Monday as the corpses rapidly decomposed. With the door continually opening to allow thousands of curious Libyans to view the bodies laid out on filthy mattresses, the refrigeration failed to keep them from rotting, Reuters news agency reported. Guards handed out surgical masks and sprayed disinfectant over the corpses, to little avail.