Why Has Gadhafi's Burial Been Delayed?

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/141597312/141597299" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

Libyan leaders debate what to do with the body of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi — amid calls from a U.N. commission for an investigation into the circumstances of his death Thursday. Melissa Block talks to NPR's Grant Clark for more.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

One day after the death of Moammar Gadhafi, his burial has been delayed. There are demands for an inquiry into the circumstances of his killing. And so the former dictator's body now lies in a cold storage unit at a market in the city of Misrata.

SIEGEL: Fati Shahawi(ph) was one of hundreds who lined up today to view Gadhafi's corpse.

FATI SHAHAWI: The first minute, I couldn't believe. But now, oh, I can't describe my feeling. It's really amazing. I feel free. Now I feel free. The devil has died.

SIEGEL: As for how he died, Libya's transitional leaders say he was killed in a crossfire as anti-Gadhafi fighters advanced into his hometown of Sirte. But video shot during and after the battle suggests Gadhafi was captured and then executed.

BLOCK: NPR's Grant Clark is in Misrata. He joins me now. And, Grant, I gather you have seen Gadhafi's body today and also the scene that's arisen around the body.

GRANT CLARK, BYLINE: Yes, Melissa, I have indeed. I have to say a pretty macabre scene. Moammar Gadhafi's remains are stretched out, his bruised and bloodied corpse, there for all to see. What I found when I arrived was a line jostling to get a look at Moammar Gadhafi's body. And armed guards were standing guard over his body and shuttling people through, allowing them a few seconds each just to have a look at it and move on out.

BLOCK: And, Grant, tell us more about the delay with Gadhafi's burial.

CLARK: Well, traditionally, within Islamic rights, a person is normally buried within 24 hours. The Quran says that a deceased person should be buried before sundown the next day. However, there seems to be a dispute within the transitional leadership. Some people believe that he should be buried in Misrata. It's a bit of a trophy issue in that they feel they captured him, so they should have the right to have him buried.

Mahmoud Jibril, the interim prime minister, has said the delay is related to a United Nations human rights probe, that he wants to go head an investigation into how exactly Gadhafi was killed. But it is clear that some of the tensions that have been simmering within this large group of people called the revolutionary movement is coming to the fore and that there must be some sort of a jockeying around how this should happen.

BLOCK: And is there any more clarity into that question of just how Gadhafi was killed yesterday?

CLARK: We don't have many more details at this point. Presumably, a forensic examination is to be carried out, I was told. In a statement, Prime Minister Jibril said that Moammar Gadhafi was killed in crossfire and was alive right up until the time the ambulance reached the hospital in Misrata. But some fighters say that Gadhafi was shot dead while trying to escape. So the possibility that he might have been killed by one of the fighters deliberately, I think, is at the center of the confusion here.

BLOCK: Grant, what do you think this confusion, these competing claims tell us about the state of Libya's transitional rulers and the challenges that lie ahead there?

CLARK: Well, I think it points to some historic deep divisions within Libyan society. You know, this liberation movement was drawn together from a broad swath of Libyan society. A lot of those tensions and competing interests and agenda that have been simmering are coming to the fore. For example, there's considerable tension between the Tripoli local council led by Abdel Hakim Belhaj, an Islamist, and the Misrata local council. And it all centers around, to some extent, jockeying for positions in an interim government and, later, an elected government in Libya.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Grant Clark, speaking with us from the city of Misrata in Libya. Grant, thanks very much.

CLARK: You're welcome, Melissa.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.