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Even stashed in a meat locker, Gadhafi divides Libya

Moammar Gadhafi's blood-streaked body has been stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center as Libyans try to figure out where and when to bury the hated leader.
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Moammar Gadhafi's blood-streaked body was stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center Friday as Libyans tried to figure out where and when to bury the hated leader.

As citizens lined up in Misrata to view the body, the top U.N. rights chief raised concerns that Gadhafi may have been shot to death after being captured.

Also muddled was the fate of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the only Gadhafi son who stayed in Libya and reportedly survived after his father's Aug. 21 ouster. It appeared Friday that he was still at large: Some government ministers had said he was wounded and in custody in a hospital in the city of Zlitan, but a military official at the hospital, Hakim al-Kisher, denied he was there.

Interim government officials moved ahead on plans to "liberate Libya." The liberation was moved from Saturday to Sunday in the city of Benghazi, often referred to as the cradle of the revolution that overthrew Gadhafi, and not in the capital Tripoli, interim government officials told Reuters.

Meantime, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance had taken a preliminary decision to end its seven-month mission in Libya on Oct. 31. He said the formal decision would come next week.

Earlier, the top NATO commander, Adm. Jim Stavridis, had said in an announcement on his Facebook page that he would recommend conclusion of the mission. "A good day for NATO, a great day for the people of Libya," Stavridis wrote.

Burial on hold, bullet to the head

In Misrata, residents crowded into long lines to get a chance to view Gadhafi's body, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out freezer at a local shopping center. The body had apparently been stowed in the freezer in an attempt to keep it out of the public eye, but once the location was known, that intention was swept away in the overwhelming desire of residents to see the man they so deeply despised.

Men, women and children filed in to take their picture with the body. The site's guards had even organized separate visiting hours for families and single men.

"We want to see the dog," some chanted.

A grab from a video taken from the mobile phone of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Libya's strongman Moamer Kadhafi in Sirte on October 20, 2011. Kadhafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)AFP

Gadhafi's 69-year-old body was stripped to the waist, his torso and arms streaked with dried blood. Bullet wounds in the chest, abdomen and left side of the head were visible.

The bloody siege of Misrata over the summer instilled a particularly virulent hatred of Gadhafi there — a hatred now mixed with pride because he was captured and killed by fighters from the city.

New video posted on Facebook showed revolutionary fighters dragging a confused-looking Gadhafi up the hill to their vehicles after his capture and less than an hour before he was killed. The young men scream "Moammar, you dog!" as their former leader wipes at blood covering the left side of his head, neck and left shoulder.

Gadhafi gestures to the young men to be patient, and says "What's going on?" as he wipes fresh blood from his temple and glances at his palm. A young fighter later is shown carrying a boot and screaming, "This is Moammar's shoe! This is Moammar's shoe! Victory! Victory!"

Video on Arab television stations showed fighters pushing 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 Gadhafi was dragged off the hood, some fighters pulling his hair, toward an ambulance.

According to a translation by Britain's Sky News, Gadhafi yelled at the revolutionaries. "What you are doing is not allowed in Islamic law," he reportedly said. "What you are doing is forbidden in Islam!"

'Shut up, dog'
Celebratory gunfire is heard in the video aired by Sky News and at one point a gun is pointed at the dictator's head.

"Do you know right from wrong?" Gadhafi added on the video shortly before he appears to lose consciousness.

"Shut up, dog," one of the former rebels responded.

The video on Sky News later shows a dead Gadhafi being photographed and filmed in the street.

Other footage showed fighters rolling Gadhafi'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 Gadhafi, as crowds in the streets cheered.

'Very disturbing' Gadhafi's family, most of whom are in Algeria or other nearby African nations, issued a statement calling for an investigation into how Gadhafi and another of his sons, Muatassim, were killed. In the statement on the pro-Gadhafi, Syria-based TV station Al-Rai, they asked for international pressure on the NTC to hand over the bodies of the two men to their tribe.

The United Nations' human rights office also called for a full investigation.

"It is unclear how he died. There is a need for an investigation," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

"It is a fundamental principle of international law that people accused of serious crimes should if possible be tried. Summary executions are strictly illegal. It is different if someone is killed in combat," he added.

Referring to separate cell phone images showing a wounded Gadhafi first alive and then later dead amidst a jumble of anti-Gadhafi fighters after his capture on Thursday, he added: "Taken together, they were very disturbing."

In Tripoli, joy over Gadhafi's end spilled into a second day as thousands converged on central Martyrs' Square for Friday prayers and celebrations. Men danced and hoisted the country's new red-green-and-black flag.

"It's the start of a new era that everybody hopes will bring security and freedom," said Tarek Othman, a computer specialist. "I hope democracy is the path we take so all of these Libyans who have sacrificed will really feel free."

He stood with his wife — who wore a cap in the revolution's colors over her all-encompassing black niqab — in the square, which was formerly known as Green Square and was used by Gadhafi to stage rallies against the uprising.

Khaled Almslaty, a clothing vendor, said he wished Gadhafi had not been killed after being captured.

"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."

It's a tall order after nearly 42 years of rule by one man, who often acted according to whims and tolerated no dissent. Libya's new leaders have stressed the need for reconciliation, but many factions are eager to have their say after years of repression.

The Western-backed NTC, a collection of former rebels, returned exiles, technocrats and Islamists, has always been united behind its goal of ousting Gadhafi. Now the group must overcome divisions and competing self-interests to rebuild the oil-rich North African nation, which was stripped of institutions under Gadhafi.

The NTC said interim leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil will formally declare liberation on Sunday in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolution began in mid-February. Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has promised to resign, saying he will not be part of any new government and will instead turn his attention to fighting corruption.

The transitional council has asked the United Nations "to play a significant role" in helping them write a constitution, hold elections and build democratic institutions, said Ian Martin, the U.N. envoy to Libya.

"No one should underestimate in this moment of celebration in Libya how great are the challenges that lie ahead," he said. He also warned of "a major challenge in the future of those of the fighters who don't wish to return to previous civilian occupations."

Gadhafi was killed when revolutionary fighters overwhelmed him and the last of his loyalists in his coastal hometown Sirte, the last bastion of his regime to be captured after weeks of heavy fighting.

Authorities have promised to bury Gadhafi in accordance with Islamic traditions calling for quick interment, but Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said the burial was delayed because officials were debating "what the best place is to bury him."

Mohamed Sayeh, a senior member of the governing National Transitional Council, said that Gadhafi's burial had been delayed until his death can be examined by the International Criminal Court.

Account of the capture
According to most accounts from fighters on the ground and their commanders, Gadhafi and his loyalists were in a convoy trying to flee when NATO airstrikes hit two of the vehicles. Then revolutionary forces moved in and clashed with the loyalists for several hours.

An uprising in Libya ousts dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Gadhafi and his bodyguards fled their cars and took refuge in a nearby drainage tunnel, where they were captured.

Most accounts agree that Gadhafi died from wounds 30 to 40 minutes later as an ambulance took him to Misrata. But accounts differ over how he suffered those wounds.

Most commanders and fighters at the scene with whom The Associated Press has spoken say that when he was captured, Gadhafi already was fatally wounded. In the videos of his capture, however, he has blood on his head, but none on his chest or abdomen. At one point, his shirt is pulled up to his chest, but no wound is visible.

Shammam said Gadhafi was wounded after his capture. "It seems like the bullet was a stray and it could have come from the revolutionaries or the loyalists," Shammam said.

Other fighters, commanders and witnesses have not spoken of any such crossfire or further clashes. Siraq al-Hamali, a 21-year-old fighter, told AP that he rode in the vehicle carrying Gadhafi as it left Sirte. He did not mention coming under fire and said Gadhafi died en route of wounds he already had.

Even reports of the coroner's conclusions were confused over which wound was fatal — some said it was the shot to the head, others said it was a shot to the liver.

Muatassim, who had been his father's feared national security adviser, was captured alive separately in Sirte, and how he died also remains unknown.

In a video aired Friday on Al-Rai, the 34-year-old Muatassim, wearing a bloodied undershirt, sits on a mattress in a room with fighters around him. He takes a swig of water and smokes a cigarette as he argues with at least one man who accused him of robbing the country and abusing its sons.

The fighter then orders Muatassim to say "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" before the video cuts to a segment with Muatassim lying subdued on the mattress with his forearm on his forehead. He also appears to check for an injury on his collar bone. The last scene is of Muatassim lying dead, apparently in a hospital, with a huge gash in his chest.