Four days after the execution of Col. Gaddafi his body remains unburied and is still drawing crowds to the market cold store in Mistrata where it lies on rotting on display. Lines of people who wish to satisfy themselves that their former leader is indisputably dead, are handed face masks to obliterate the stench. Lying on stained mattresses the bodies of Gaddafi, his son Motassim, and his former army chief, could not be described as lying in state.
Libya’s National Transitional Council has not yet reached a decision regarding the burial of Gaddafi, fearing if the location is made known it could become a shrine. The people of Mistrata do not want the body buried beneath their soil. The Islamic principle of speedy burial is being ignored, despite the avowed intent of the NTC to follow Islamic law.
Those who travel to view Gaddafi’s body seem content with the status quo and in no hurry to move the body. One man told Sky News
"We brought our children to see him today because this is a chance to see history. We want to see this arrogant person as a lifeless body. Let all the people see him."
The Calgary Herald
reported one man viewing the body on Monday said
"If he had been a good man, we would have buried him”
whilst a man in Cairo observed
“The rotting body is just emblematic of the rotten political and social environment under Gaddafi."
The NTC appears in no rush to satisfy Gaddafi’s remaining relatives request that the body be handed to them for burial in Sirte, as Gaddafi requested in his will. However they have admitted to entering negotiations with Gaddafi’s tribesmen over how to dispose of the body. It is notable that the Mistratans are expecting something in return for any cooperation they give in handing over the body.
Meanwhile amidst the confused accounts given regarding the death of Gaddafi, Omran al-Oweib, commander of the rebel forces who captured Gaddafi, has added his own input to events. He told the BBC
“that the injured colonel was dragged from a drainage pipe where he was hiding in Sirte, took 10 steps and collapsed amid gunfire on Thursday. He said it was impossible to tell who had fired the fatal bullet.”
This latest version takes no account of the video footage which has circulated internationally, showing Gaddafi beaten and bleeding. It is possible that those inside Libya are out of touch with the interest that Gaddafi’s death has sparked worldwide, but conflicting accounts add to the impression of a deliberate NTC cover up.