Libyans Bury Gadhafi In Unmarked Gravesite
Published: October 26, 2011 (Issue # 1680)
MISRATA, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi was buried early Tuesday morning in an unmarked grave in a modest Islamic ceremony, closing the book on his nearly 42-year rule of Libya and the eight-month civil war to oust him.
A Gadhafi nephew read a prayer for the dead before Gadhafi’s body — along with those of his son Muatassim and former defense minister Abu Bakr Younis — were handed over for burial, said Ibrahim Beitalmal, a spokesman for the military council in the port city of Misrata.
The bodies had been kept in cold storage in Misrata for four days before being taken under cover of darkness to the burial site, which Beitalmal said was “not far” from the city. As part of the ceremony, the bodies were washed in line with Islamic tradition. A Muslim cleric, a nephew of Gadhafi and sons of Abu Bakr then recited prayers before handing the bodies over for burial, which took place at 5 a.m.
Libya’s new leaders have said they would not reveal the location of the grave, fearing it could be vandalized or turned into a shrine for the former dictator’s die-hard supporters.
Gadhafi was captured alive Thursday as he tried to flee his hometown of Sirte, where he had been hiding since revolutionary forces swept into the capital, Tripoli, two months earlier.
He died later that day in unclear circumstances, and Libyan leaders have promised an investigation in response to international pressure to look into Gadhafi’s death. Video has emerged showing Gadhafi being beaten and abused by a mob after his capture, and researchers for the New York-based Human Rights Watch have said there are strong indications he was killed in custody.
Human rights activists have warned that the new Libya could get off on the wrong foot if vigilante justice is condoned. However, many Libyans appeared relieved that Gadhafi is dead, saying a long trial for the former dictator would have been disruptive and made it harder on the country to get a fresh start. Earlier this week, interim leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil formally declared an end to the civil war, starting the clock on what is to be a two-year transition to democracy.
The bodies of Gadhafi, Muatassim and Younis had been kept in a refrigerated produce locker in a warehouse area of Misrata for the past four days. Hundreds lined up every day to view the corpses, some coming from hundreds of miles away. Visitors donned surgical masks, and at times guards arranged separate lines for men and women.
Misrata suffered immensely during the war. It was besieged for nearly two months and shelled indiscriminately. Gadhafi was captured by fighters from Misrata, who brought him back to the city as a trophy.