Qaddafi body stashed in shopping center freezer

Body of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi lies on mattress in morgue in Misrata, Libya on Oct. 21, 2011 AP Photo/Manu Brabo

MISRATA, Libya - Muammar Qaddafi's blood-streaked body has been stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center as Libyans try to keep it away from crowds as they figure out where and when to bury the hated leader.

An AP correspondent saw the body Friday at the shopping center in the coastal city of Misrata, home of the fighters who killed the ousted leader a day earlier in his hometown of Sirte.

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.

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Bloody images of Qaddafi's last moments in the hands of angry captors have raised questions over his treatment minutes before his death. The U.N. human rights office has called for an investigation into his death.

Qaddafi's demise came as he and a band of loyalists tried to flee Sirte 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.

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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, reports Palmer.

Libyan leaders said it appeared that Qaddafi had been caught in the crossfire and it was unclear who fired the bullet that killed him.

Information Minister Mahmoud 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.

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.

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