Saturday, October 22, 2011

United Nations Orders Probe Into Gaddafi's Assassination

UN orders Gaddafi death probe

Saturday, 22 October 2011 00:00
Zimbabwe Herald

AS the world ponders a post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya, questions abound over how the former Libyan leader died.

The United Nations, his widow and other world leaders have since called for an investigation into Col Gaddafi's death.

There is widespread condemnation of the way the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was killed.

The Government of Zimbabwe yesterday condemned the killing.

In a statement, Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu said: "Government has closely followed developments unfolding in Libya, especially in the last 24 hours. Zimbabwe just cannot accept what has happened in that African country as a legitimate way of correcting systems on the African continent."

South Africa's ruling African National Congress expressed regret that the Libyan conflict could only come to an end with Gaddafi's "gruesome killing".

Jackson Mthembu, ANC spokesperson said: "It is the view of the ANC that this could have been avoided had the African Union roadmap been adopted.

"We are as convinced now as we were then that a peaceful approach would have saved many lives in Libya if it was given a chance."

South African President Jacob Zu-ma said Col Gaddafi should not have been killed, but captured and tried at the International Criminal Court.

Cde Zuma said this while addressing a joint media briefing with current African Union chairman Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"Given there was a warrant of arrest against Gaddafi, those who found him should have arrested him and handed him to the ICC," Zuma said.

"We expected him to be captured, given that everybody knew there was a warrant of arrest issued against him."

"There is a trend across the world where former leaders accused of injustice are not given an opportunity to stand trial in a court of justice. That is surprising. I think even those who accused him (Gaddafi) would have wanted to see him become answerable," he said.

President Mbasogo said the AU had led several efforts "to persuade Colonel Gaddafi to cede power peacefully, but he refused".

"We remember how a team, including President Jacob Zuma, intervened on behalf of the African Union and went to negotiate a settlement in Libya but did not succeed. They took a major risk and went to places like Benghazi where there were some problems."

He said since the AU had recognised the NTC in September as the legitimate authority in Libya, Col Gaddafi's actions and whereabouts were no longer a major concern of the 54-nation bloc.

President Mbasogo said in conflict situations, the AU did not have capacity for any intervention beyond negotiations."It is a body with hands tied. We offer means for peaceful conflict resolution, but often it is not taken. We do not have the court to try anyone accused of injustice."

He said the idea of an African Union court was raised in his talks with Cde Zuma yesterday.

Both leaders called for "a cessation of hostilities under an inclusive political process which will culminate in the holding of first ever democratic elections" in accordance with the AU roadmap.

Col Gaddafi's death followed an-eight month war between troops loyal to him and the National Transitional Council-backed by NATO.

He was expected to be buried according to Muslim rites within 24 hours, a Libyan commander said yesterday.

Members of his tribe were in contact with the NTC to discuss the possibility of taking over the task of burying him, a senior military commander of the NTC said.

He was expected to be buried at a secret location, an NTC commander told Reuters.

Back in February when the uprising started, Col Gaddafi vowed to fight "to my last drop of blood".

He also declared, "I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents . . . I will die as a martyr at the end," he said.

As questions continue to be asked, Reuters said a Syrian-based television station that supported Col Gaddafi said his widow had asked for a United Nations investigation into her husband's death and that of his son Mo'tassim whom she considered to be martyrs.

The other son Saif al-Islam escaped and is believed to be in one of the neighbouring countries.

Khamis, who was reported dead many times, is still believed to be in Sirte, while Col Gaddafi's other family members are in Egypt.

Rights groups and media organisations are also raising questions on how Col Gaddafi met his end with the UN Human Rights commission, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International calling for a probe into the circumstances leading to Col Gaddafi's death.

Spokesman for the UN rights organisation Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva that amateur videos showing a captured Col Gaddafi first alive, then dead, were "very disturbing."

"On the issue of Gaddafi's death, the circumstances are still unclear. There are four or five different versions of how he died. There should be some kind of investigation given what we saw yesterday (Thursday). The two videos . . . taken together are very disturbing."

Gordon Rayner of The Telegraph also said yesterday "a video of Col Gaddafi alive and talking after he was captured by rebel fighters has given rise to suspicions that he was later executed with a shot to the head.

"The shaky clip, filmed on a mobile phone and posted online within hours of his death, showed the former dictator badly injured but still able to stand up. The footage appears to show that rebel leaders were misleading Libyans when they said Gaddafi had been shot in the head in a firefight.

It begins with Col Gaddafi, wearing desert fatigues and a heavily bloodstained shirt, lying on the bonnet of a Toyota pick-up truck, with rebels brandishing pistols sitting on either side and propping up his head.

Seconds later, a barefoot Col Gaddafi is slid off the bonnet and on to his feet.

He staggers a few paces surrounded by rebels whooping and shouting "God is great!"

"The video ends with Gaddafi opening his mouth as if to speak and putting his right hand up to his face. Despite official statements that he had been ‘wounded in both legs' and ‘shot in the head' as he resisted capture, there is no sign of blood on his trousers in the video", said the report.

However, the NTC said a forensic report showed he died from a bullet wound to the head.

"Two other videos taken later in the day show Gaddafi being rolled over and kicked on the ground, and propped against the leg of a rebel, but he still appears to be alive. Hours later, a photograph of his body shows a new wound - a clean bullet hole in his left temple," added the report.

Another Telegraph report says, "Col Gaddafi's convoy was bombed by an American Predator drone and then attacked by French jets before the deposed dictator was killed by rebel fighters, defence sources disclosed."

The report adds, "It is understood that RAF Tornados were patrolling over Sirte at the time of the escape attempt, but were not directly involved in the operation. Gaddafi had been under surveillance by NATO forces for the past week after an intelligence breakthrough allowed them to pinpoint his location. An American drone and an array of NATO eavesdropping aircraft had been trained on his Sirte stronghold to ensure he could not escape.

"Intelligence sources have suggested that in his last days, Gaddafi broke his rigid rule of telephone silence and was overheard using either a mobile or satellite phone. Voice recognition technology would have instantly picked up any call that he made.

"MI6 agents and CIA officers on the ground were also providing intelligence and it is believed that Gaddafi was given a code name in the same way that US forces used the name Geronimo during the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

"Since the fall of Tripoli in August, intelligence services have been searching for Gaddafi across Libya and beyond using agents, special forces and eavesdropping equipment. US and British special forces had trawled through Gaddafi's former desert stronghold around Sirte and the south of Libya without finding him."

To add to the confusion, another report says, "According to an official version of events by the NTC leader, as Gaddafi was being transported to hospital the vehicle was ‘caught in crossfire' as NTC and pro-Gaddafi forces fought further. A post-mortem report showed that the fatal shot had hit Gaddafi in the head, Jibril said, adding that it was not clear which side had fired the bullet."

However, a spokesman for the Misrata Military Council, which commanded the fighters who captured him, said Gaddafi died from his wounds as an ambulance took him the 193km to Misrata.

Another NTC official, Abdel Majid Mlegta, said: "He was bleeding from his stomach. It took a long time to transport him. He bled to death."

Yet another NTC official, who asked not to be named, told the agency: "They (NTC fighters) beat him very harshly and then they killed him.

This is a war."

The New York Times said Gaddafi's later photographs showed what forensic experts said appeared to be bullet wounds to the head fired at close range, indicating he might have been executed in this way.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had been in Tripoli earlier this week said on CBS News when told of news reports of Col Gaddafi's death, "We came, we saw, he died."

Meanwhile, the AU has lifted Libya's suspension and allowed the NTC to occupy the country's seat at the continental body, following Col Gaddafi's death.

The suspension was lifted by the Peace and Security Council, of which Libya is a member "under exceptional circumstances" and "without prejudice" to the relevant laws, which ban unconstitutional governments from occupying power.

The PSC said the circumstances in Libya were exceptional and unique, with the departure of the long-serving leader Col Gaddafi.

"The PSC decided to authorise the current authorities in Libya to occupy the seat of Libya in the AU organs," the PSC said in a statement late on Thursday.

- AFP/Reuters/SAPA/Pana/CBS News/Guardian/The Herald.

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