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Gaddafi's body being kept in shopping centre freezer

The dictator’s remains have reportedly been hidden there to keep them safe from angry crowds. (Warning: extremely graphic image).

A former rebel soldier kicks an image of Gaddafi after news of his death emerged
A former rebel soldier kicks an image of Gaddafi after news of his death emerged

MUAMMAR GADDAFI’S BLOOD-streaked body was stashed in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre today as Libyans tried to keep it out of the public eye and away from crowds.

An Associated Press correspondent saw the body at the shopping centre 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, was laid on a bloodied mattress on the floor of an emptied-out room-sized freezer where restaurants and stores in the centre normally keep perishables. A bullet hole was visible on the left side of his head – with the bullet still lodged in his head, according to the presiding doctor – and in the centre of his chest and stomach. His hair was matted and dried blood streaks his arms and head.

Outside the shopping centre, hundreds of civilians from Misrata jostled to get inside for a peek at the body, shouting “God is great” and “We want to see the dog.”

The makeshift provisions for the corpse – at one point it was kept in a private house on Thursday – reflected the disorganisation and confusion that has surrounded Gaddafi’s death.

His burial had been planned for Friday, in accordance with Islamic traditions calling for quick interment. But the interim government delayed it, saying the circumstances of his death still had to be determined. Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam also said authorities are “debating right now what the best place is to bury him.”

Wounded but alive

Gaddafi was captured wounded but alive, and there have been contradictory accounts of how he received his fatal wounds – raising the question whether he was shot to death while in custody, something Libyan officials have denied.

New images surfaced of the 69-year-old Gaddafi being taunted and beaten by the fighters who captured him. By authorities’ account, at the time the video was taken, Gadhafi would have already suffered the wounds that would kill him about a half-hour later – shots to the head, chest and belly. In the video, there is blood on Gadhafi’s head, but none visible on his chest or belly, and he is talking and standing up.

International rights groups have called for an investigation into his death.

“More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling the images of Gaddafi’s last moments very disturbing.

Gaddafi’s body in the commercial freezer where it is being kept (Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images)

One of Gaddafi’s sons, Muatassim, was also killed in the Sirte, but the fate of Gaddafi’s one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam was unclear. Some Libyan officials said he had been wounded and was being held in a hospital in Zlitan. But Shammam said Friday that Seif al-Islam’s whereabouts were not confirmed, leaving open the possibility he escaped.

Gaddafi was killed as revolutionary fighters overwhelmed him and his last die-hard loyalists in Sirte, capturing the city after a heavily fought, weeks-long siege. Exact details of his final hours remain unclear.

But according to most accounts from fighters on the ground and their commanders, Gaddafi was in a convoy trying to flee, when NATO airstrikes hit two of the vehicles. Then revolutionary forces moved in and clashed with the loyalists with Gadhafi for several hours. Gaddafi and his bodyguards fled their cars and took refuge in a nearby drainage tunnel. Fighters pursued and clashed with them, and in the end, Gaddafi emerged from tunnel and was grabbed by fighters.

New footage posted on Facebook shows the moments when Gadhafi was dragged by revolutionary fighters up the hill to their vehicles. The young men beat the bloodied and confused-looking Gaddafi, screaming, “Muammar, you dog!”

Gaddafi 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 Muammar’s shoe! This is Muammar’s shoe! Victory! Victory!”

Watch: new video and details of moments after Gaddafi’s capture emerge>

In pictures: Libyans in Ireland celebrate the death of Gaddafi>

Read: Libya – ‘We announce to the world that Muammar Gaddafi has been killed’>

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Associated Press

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