Uncertainty Over Burial of Libya’s Gadhafi

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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Libyan provisional government officials have delayed plans to bury former leader Moammar Gadhafi on Friday, a day after he was killed as fighters stormed his hometown of Sirte.

Officials initially said Gadhafi would be laid to rest Friday at a secret location. However, news organizations quote National Transitional Council members who say his burial could be delayed for a few days because of uncertainty over a burial location and a possible International Criminal Court probe.

Meanwhile, the U.N. human rights office has called for investigation into Gadhafi's death. Spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday the circumstances surrounding the former Libyan leader's death are “unclear” and videos showing his demise are “disturbing.”

Cell phone video from Sirte has shown NTC fighters carrying a wounded and bleeding Gadhafi shortly before he died. Later images showed him apparently dead.

There are conflicting accounts about how he died. Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said Gadhafi was pulled from a hiding place in a sewage pipe and later mortally wounded in crossfire between pro- and anti-Gadhafi fighters.

Other officials said he was beaten and then killed.

Separately, Libyans have continued to celebrate the end of the Gadhafi era. Jubilant citizens have taken to the streets, where some fired celebratory shots into the air and waved the new national flag.

NTC officials say the interim government will formally announce Libya's liberation from Gadhafi's rule on Saturday and begin talks on a government transition.

In another development, NATO representatives are meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss an end to their more than six-month air campaign over Libya. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Gadhafi's death means the NATO operation is “coming to its end.”

Gadhafi had ruled Libya for more than four decades when a rebellion began in February in the eastern city of Benghazi and then spread across the country.

Libyan officials said one of Gadhafi's sons, Mutassim, also was killed in Sirte on Thursday as was longtime defense chief Abu Baker Younis. Another Gadhafi son, Seif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed in a village near Sirte as conflicting accounts of the day's events circulated.