Gadfafi's corpse in display, rumors on autopsy, handover
Updated: 2011-10-23 07:36
The body of Muammar Gaddafi is displayed inside a metal cold storage container in Misrata October 22, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
MISRATA/TRIPOLI, Libya - Murky clouds linger on over Libya Saturday due to a lack of consensus on how to deal with the corpse of fallen leader Muammar Gadfafi, as the country is set to announce its "liberation" and subsequently its interim leadership.
Hundreds of citizens in Misrata, some 200 km from Libya's capital Tripoli, wanted Saturday to have a glimpse of the country' s top man in the past four decades.
Queuing outside an African marketplace, or known as al-Tunsy market, in western Misrata, some took their children alongside, while almost everyone was having the video camera in their cellphones standby before they were allowed group by group into a huge commercial freezer in which the bodies of Gadfafi and his son Mutassim were stored, prevented from perishing.
Two days after the death of Gadfafi, who was captured alive from a drainage hole in his hometown of Sirte but later died of fatal bullet wounds in his head and stomach, a burial was still out of sight despite the Islam tradition, as the leadership of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is perplexed by not only the way and location of the burial, but also managerial issues following the "liberation" of the country, which is slated for the weekend.
Late on Saturday, the BBC quoted an official from the Libyan interim foreign ministry as saying that a post-mortem examination had been done on Gadfafi's body, which would be later handed over to his relatives.
However, conflicting information exists as a source with the Misrata Military Council told Xinhua Saturday night that there were still no concrete plans among the leadership on handing over Gadfafi's corpse to any party, either his family or his tribe.
The source, who required anonymity, also denied a forensic autopsy, stressing that the body was still present in the refrigeration unit in Misrata.
A member of the NTC, who preferred anonymity, told a Xinhua reporter in Benghazi on Saturday that Gadfafi's body will be buried in an undisclosed location and will not be handed over to his family.
On Saturday, an NTC member raised doubts over the exact circumstances of Gadfafi's death. "Gadfafi was clearly captured and there should be an investigation as to how he ended up dead a short while later," Waheed Burshan was quoted by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV as saying.
"Was there a fight when transporting him to Misrata? We don't know. But there was definitely a time gap and I am sure an investigation will happen," he added.
Burshan's remarks, in contradiction with the account made by the head of NTC's executive committee Mahmoud Jibril that Gadfafi was killed in crossfire, came a day after the United Nations called for comprehensive investigations into his death.
Meanwhile, Jibril said Saturday that the Libyan authorities should be allowed to form an interim government after a national congress is elected within eight months.
"After voting on the National Congress, we will start to draft a constitution and then form an interim government to manage the country's affairs until the presidential elections are held," Jibril said at the World Economic Forum held in Jordan.
Currently, restoring stability and order, removing weapons from the streets and starting a nationwide reconciliation process top the NTC's agenda, said Jibril, who on Saturday also said that he planned to step down soon, keeping a promise he had made repeatedly since NTC fighters got control of the Libyan capital in late August.
Gadfafi's death and the withdrawal of NATO forces, which is expected at the end of October, will leave a period of power vacuum in Libya, raising fears that clashes among different ethnic groups trying to seize power may break out.
Apart from that, sources from Niger showed that troubles had already emerged on Saturday after Gadfafi's intelligence chief Abdallah Senoussi had reportedly taken refuge in Niger's extreme north.
Bazoum Mohamed, Niger's minister of state in charge of foreign affairs and cooperation, told a foreign radio Saturday morning that he had learned Senoussi was seen in the zone bordering both Algeria and Libya.
"The Nigerien government would find nothing inconvenient to conform to international obligations, by handing him over to Interpol if ever he is apprehended on its territory," he said.
When asked by Xinhua's correspondent in the Nigerien capital Niamey, an officer of the intelligence service of the army admitted having learned about the news, but failed to provide details.
Wanted by the International Criminal Court, Senoussi is among the 32 high-ranking members of Gadfafi's government allegedly taking refuge in northern Niger. The whereabouts of Gadfafi's son Seif al-Islam remains misty despite rumors the previous day saying that he had been captured in Zeltin, 160 km east of Tripoli.