x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Qaddafi and son 'buried in secret desert location'

With the decay of the body forcing the NTC leadership's hand, it appeared to have decided that an anonymous grave would at least ensure the plot did not become a shrine.

TRIPOLI // Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his son Mutassim were buried today in a secret desert location, a National Transitional Council official said, ending a wrangle over their rotting corpses that led to fears for Libya's stability.

With their Western allies uneasy that Qaddafi was roughed up and shot after his capture on Thursday, NTC forces had put the body on show in a cold store while they argued over what to do with it, until its decay forced them to close the doors on Monday.

"Qaddafi and the son, Mutassim, were buried at dawn in a secret place with proper respects paid. We will release more details officially later," an interim government official said.

A military official from the town of Misurata, where the corpses had been on public display in a meat locker, confirmed the burials.

The killing of the 69-year-old in his hometown of Sirte ended eight months of war and a nervous two-month hiatus since the NTC's motley forces overran the capital Tripoli.

But it also threatened to lay bare the regional and tribal rivalries that present the NTC with its biggest challenge.

NTC officials had said negotiations were going on with Qaddafi's tribal kinsmen from Sirte and within the interim leadership over where and how to dispose of the bodies, and on what the Misurata leaders in possession of the corpses might receive in return for cooperation.

"No agreement was reached for his tribe to take him," another NTC official said.

With the decay of the body forcing the NTC leadership's hand, it appeared to have decided that an anonymous grave would at least ensure the plot did not become a shrine.

An NTC official said several days ago that there would be only four witnesses to the burial, and all would swear on the Quran never to reveal the location.

NTC fears that Qaddafi's sons might mount an insurgency have been largely allayed by the deaths of two of those who wielded the most power, the military commander Khamis and Mutassim, the former national security adviser.