Muammar Gaddafi and his son were buried in a secret desert grave this morning, says the National Transitional Council, ending debate among Libya’s new leaders.
The National Transitional Council (NTC) was undecided about how to deal with the body and the aftermath of Gaddafi’s death. But the rotting corpse was closed to the public on Monday night, its state of decay forcing the NTC to make a swift decision.
The low-key ceremony and anonymous grave for Gaddafi and his son Mutassim were decided on to ensure that the burial plot does not become a shrine.
An NTC official told Reuters yesterday: “He will be buried tomorrow in a simple burial, with sheikhs attending the burial. It will be an unknown location in the open desert.”
He said that the corpse was in such a state of decomposition that it “cannot last any longer”.
Libya’s former leader was killed in his hometown of Sirte, ending eight months of war in the country.
Another NTC official previously said that there would be only four witnesses and all would swear on the Koran not to reveal the location.
Gaddafi’s body had been put on display in a cold store in Misrata after his death last week, and crowds of Libyans queued to catch a glimpse of the former colonel.
The NTC had tried to call a halt to viewings of the body, but did not want to turn away the scores of sightseers. Many came to take pictures and videos of the corpse, some posing in front of the body.
Officials handed out surgical masks to visitors on Monday to guard against the stench.
International human rights groups have raised concern over the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death and his treatment after he was found.
A recent analysis of video footage taken of Gaddafi’s capture alleges that the former Colonel was sodomised with a knife or stick as he was being dragged from the drainpipe where he was hiding. The international Geneva Conventions state that any abuse of prisoners is forbidden, regardless of the circumstances.
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference on Monday that the NTC had formed a committee to investigate the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death.
He said that interim authorities believed that Libya’s former leader was killed in crossfire after being captured.