TRIPOLI, (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi and his son Mo’tassim were buried in a secret desert location on Tuesday, five days after the deposed Libyan leader was captured, killed and put on grisly public display.
“He (Gaddafi) has just been buried now in the desert along with his son,” National Transitional Council (NTC) commander Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters by telephone.
Gaddafi’s cleric, Khaled Tantoush, who was captured with him, prayed over the bodies before they were taken from the compound in the coastal city of Misrata, where they had been on show, and handed to two NTC loyalists for burial, he said. The NTC had worried many outsiders by displaying the corpses in a meat locker in the fiercely anti-Gaddafi city of Misrata until their decaying state forced them to call a halt.
Under pressure from Western allies, the NTC promised the same day to investigate how Gaddafi and his son were killed. Mobile phone footage shows both alive after their capture. The former leader was seen being mocked, beaten and abused before he died, in what NTC officials say was crossfire.
The saga has made Western allies of Libya’s interim leadership uneasy about the prospects for the rule of law and stable government in the post-Gaddafi era.
“This is a test. The NTC has repeatedly said that they will distinguish themselves from the Gaddafi regime in terms of the respect of human rights and the rule of law,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said. “Now is the time for them to begin actions that will help them reinforce these words,” he told a news conference in Morocco
Most Libyans, however, had little sympathy for Gaddafi or the way he was treated.
“I laughed when I saw him being beaten as he deserved to be. And I laugh again now that I know he is in the ground,” said Emani Zaid, 20, a student in Tripoli. “If the men who buried him are true free Libyans, they can keep the secret (of his grave).”