Qaddafi burial delayed amid questions over death
TRIPOLI, Libya - The burial of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi has been delayed until the circumstances of his death can be further examined and a decision is made about where to bury the body, Libyan officials said Friday, as the U.N. human rights office called for an investigation into his death.
The transitional leadership had said it would bury the dictator Friday in accordance with Islamic tradition. Bloody images of Qaddafi's last moments in the hands of angry captors have raised questions over his treatment minutes before his death. One son, Muatassim, was also killed but the fate of Qaddafi's one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam was unclear.
Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said Saif al-Islam was wounded and being held in a hospital in the city of Zlitan. But Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam on Friday that the son's whereabouts were uncertain.
While interim government officials decide where Qaddafi should be interred, his blood-streaked body remains stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center as Libyans try to keep it away from crowds. (See image below.)
An AP correspondent saw the body Friday at the shopping center in the coastal city of Misrata. 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 center keep perishables. A bullet hole is visible on the left side of his head and in the center of his chest. Dried blood streaks his arms and head.
Thursday's death of Qaddafi, two months after he was driven from power and into hiding, decisively buries the nearly 42-year regime that had turned the oil-rich country into an international pariah and his own personal fiefdom.
It also thrusts Libya into a new age in which its transitional leaders must overcome deep divisions and rebuild nearly all its institutions from scratch to achieve dreams of democracy.
After initially announcing plans to declare the nation liberated Saturday, the interim government said Friday it would call Sunday "liberation day," the Reuters news agency reported. That means the clock will start ticking on forming a permanent government. There are elections expected in around eight months, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports.
And NATO's top commander Adm. Jim Stavridis announced Friday that he would recommend the end of the alliance's seven-month mission in the country.
Many Libyans awoke after a night of jubilant celebration and celebratory gunfire with hope for the future but also concern that their new rulers might repeat the mistakes of the past.
Khaled Almslaty, a 42-year-old clothing vendor in Tripoli, said he wished Qaddafi had been captured alive.
"But I believe he got what he deserved because if we prosecuted him for the smallest of his crimes, he would be punished by death," he said. "Now we hope the NTC will accelerate the formation of a new government and ... won't waste time on irrelevant conflicts and competing for authority and positions."
Qaddafi's demise came as Libyan fighters finally toppled Sirte. The fugitive dictator and a band of loyalists tried to flee the city but were hit by a NATO airstrike consisting of French warplanes and a U.S. Predator drone. NATO officials have said they were unaware Qaddafi was in the convoy.
After surviving the strike, Qaddafi and a group of bodyguards hid in a nearby drainage pipe where they were discovered by Libyan fighters. Qaddafi was wounded in an ensuing firefight, but who initially shot him is still unknown. According to one account, his own bodyguard fired on him to save him the disgrace of being captured, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.
But Qaddafi didn't die in the initial struggle and bloody images of his subsequent final moments raise questions about the circumstances of his end. Video on Arab television stations showed a crowd of fighters shoving and pulling the goateed, balding Qaddafi, with blood splattered on his face and soaking his shirt.
(Below is a graphic video first aired on Al Jazeera showing what is apparently Qaddafi's last moments alive, following his capture by rebels.)Qaddafi struggled against them, stumbling and shouting as the fighters pushed him onto the hood of a pickup truck. One fighter held him down, pressing on his thigh with a pair of shoes in a show of contempt.
Fighters propped him on the hood as they drove for several moments, apparently to parade him around in victory.
"We want him alive. We want him alive," one man shouted before Qaddafi was dragged off the hood, some fighters pulling his hair, toward an ambulance.
According to a Sky News translation, Qaddafi shouted at the fighters, saying that "what you are doing is forbidden in Islam!"
"Do you know right from wrong?" he also reportedly said before apparently losing consciousness.
One of the fighters reportedly replied, "Shut up, dog."
Later footage showed fighters rolling Qaddafi's lifeless body over on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of blood under his head. His body was then paraded on a car through Misrata, a nearby city that suffered a brutal siege by regime forces during the eight-month civil war that eventually ousted Qaddafi. Crowds in the streets cheered, "The blood of martyrs will not go in vain."
Libyan fighters also took Qaddafi's personal weapon, his golden pistol, and paraded it around Sirte as a trophy, Palmer reports.
Libyan leaders said it appeared that Qaddafi had been caught in the crossfire and it was unclear who fired the bullet that killed him.
Shammam said a coroner's report showed that Qaddafi was killed by a bullet to the head and died in the ambulance on the way to a field hospital. Qaddafi was already injured from battle when he was found in the drainage pipe, Shammam said.
"It seems like the bullet was a stray and it could have come from the revolutionaries or the loyalists," Shammam said, echoing an account given by Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril the night before. "The problem is everyone around the event is giving his own story."
Shammam said that the TNC was expecting a report from Financial Minister Ali Tarhouni who was sent as an envoy to Misrata on Thursday.
NATO's governing body, meanwhile, was meeting Friday to decide when and how to end the seven-month bombing campaign in Libya, a military operation whose success has helped reinvigorate the Cold War alliance.
The U.N. Human Rights Council established an independent panel earlier this year to investigate abuses in Libya, and spokesman Rupert Colville said it would likely examine the circumstances of the 69-year-old leader's death. He said it was too early to say whether the panel -- which includes Canadian judge Philippe Kirsch, the first president of the International Criminal Court -- would recommend a formal investigation at the national or international level.
"We believe there is a need for an investigation," Colville said. "More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture."
"The two cell phone videos that have emerged, one of him alive, and one of him dead, taken together are very disturbing," he told reporters in Geneva.
Mohamed Sayeh, a senior member of TNC, said representatives from the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court would come to a "go through the paperwork."
Sayeh also says Qaddafi's body is still in Misrata, where it was taken after his killing in Sirte. He says Qaddafi will be buried with respect according to Islam tradition and will not have a public funeral.
The ICC did not issue any official comments about Qaddafi, but judges at the court would need official confirmation - most likely a DNA sample from the body - that Qaddafi is dead before they could formally withdraw his indictment.
Qaddafi, Saif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi have been charged with crimes against humanity for the brutal crackdown on dissent as the uprising against the regime began in mid-February and escalated into a civil war.
Popular on CBSNews.com
One year after Afghan massacre, villagers work with U.S. troops One year after U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians, the villagers in the town where the atrocity took place have joined the U.S. special forces stationed there to assist in the fight against the Taliban.
- 50th Paris Air Show 19 Photos
- Widespread protests in Brazil 23 Photos
- Celebration and devotion in India 14 Photos
- One of FBI's Ten Most Wanted nabbed in Mexico
- Afghan gov't halts talks with U.S. on security pact
- Somali militants wage deadly attack on U.N. office
- Torrential rain devastates Northern India 15 Photos
- Brazil protesters flood Sao Paulo streets for 2nd night