Jubilation erupted in Tripoli as news broke that Moammar Qaddafi had died after being captured in Sirte Oct. 20. But the circumstances of his death are greatly disputed. Initial reports said he was found hiding in a drainage tunnel after having been injured in a NATO airstrike on a convoy fleeing the town. Other reports indicated he was caught in crossfire after his capture. Images first showed him alive; other images then emerged of his gruesome corpse. “Keep him alive, keep him alive!” someone shouts in one video clip—just before gunshots ring out and the camera veers off. One National Transitional Council official speculated to the BBC that he was shot by own colleagues. By some reports, he died in a hospital in Misrata; by other accounts he was already dead upon arrival in the city. His son Mutassim is reported to have been killed alongside him. His other son Saif escaped from Sirte and remains at large.
President Barack Obama hailed the killing as marking the end of “dark tyranny” over Libya. But Amnesty International called for the NTC to publish the full facts of Qaddafi’s death and hold a “full, independent and impartial inquiry to establish the circumstances” of the slaying. The rights group also called for a full accounting of years is abuses under Qaddafi’s rule. “The legacy of repression and abuse from Col. Moammar al-Gaddafi’s rule will not end until there is a full accounting for the past and human rights are embedded in Libya’s new institutions,” said Amnesty’s Claudio Cordone.
The NTC denied that Qaddafi had been killed by its forces after capture. It said his remains would be shortly buried at a secret location. One doctor said he died frmo two bullet bullet wounds—one in the leg, and one in the head. The body was paraded through the streets of Misrata after his death, as crowds chanted “God is great” and “The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain.” (LAT, AP, BBC World Service, Oct. 21; Reuters, News Consortium, CBS, The Independent, The Guardian, Amnesty International, Oct. 20; video footage online at Feb17.info)
In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez said: “Sadly the death of Qaddafi has been confirmed. They assassinated him. It is another outrage. We shall remember Qaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr.” (AFP, Oct. 21)
See our last post on Libya.