Fate of Gaddafi Body Still Undecided

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Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Libya's National Transitional Council has authorized an investigation into how Muammar Gaddafi died. The interim government's leader announced the investigative committee today. Videos of the captured dictator raised concerns around the world. The images showed a bleeding and confused Gaddafi being pushed around by a mob. Gaddafi's body meanwhile remains in cold storage now in a room in Misrata. Libya's new leaders are debating what to do with the corpse. The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse is in Misrata and he says authorities there tried to stop the body's public display today.

Gabriel Gatehouse: The commander there seemed to be quite reluctantly closing the gates. He tried to close them several times and each time he got there a few more people would arrive saying no, no, cue it up, please let us in. This went on for an hour or so before they finally did manage to shut it down. Now, he said he was under orders form on high not to let anybody else tomorrow. I think in a sense the body is this grisly spectacle. The body of Colonel Gaddafi has become a political bargaining chip; the fighters of Misrata captured him. That's what they did, it's their war trophy. And I think the delay in his burial is in part explained by some behind the scenes maneuvering, positioning for power in a country which has absolutely no precedent or experience for plural politics.

Mullins: They have no experience whatsoever, which makes me wonder to what extent the authorities, transitional authorities are interested in imposing the rule of law. I mean does it seem as if that's one of the reasons they're closing the doors and trying to move on with this aside from the politics?

Gatehouse: I think they are interested in imposing the rule of law. I think if you look at what the head of the National Transitional Council, Mr. Abdul Jalil is saying and the noises that are coming out of Benghazi, you will see that they are interested, I think, in trying to implement the rule of law, trying to present a civilized and unified face not only to the outside world, but also to their own people. The question I think is to what extent are they able to because this is a country that's had its regime toppled by a disparate group of brigades that are in a sense only to themselves, the Misratans don't even answer to a Misratan command structure, these are people under the command of their own people and they answer only to themselves. This is a country awash with guns, full of independent minded people, and it's going to take a very concerted, almost superhuman effort, I think to disarm this country, disarm all of these people, persuade them to hand in their guns or join the regular army...and to instill some kind of common purpose, to corral them all into a single direction while at the same time making everyone feel like they've got a stake in this new country.

Mullins: There's a lot going on, not only in the country, but it sounds like right behind you, Gabriel. Can you tell us, I mean you're in Misrata. I don't know if you're near where the body is right at this minute, but what is happening there?

Gatehouse: Oh, it's about a 10 minute drive away from here actually, it's on the outskirts of town, but for the past four nights we've seen wild and crazy celebrations in this town ever since Colonel Gaddafi was captured and killed. Every evening it has gone mad here. People have been driving at breakneck speed around the streets of this city doing handbrake turns, terrible screeches, firing off guns into the air; not just Kalashnikovs I might add, but heavy caliber anti-aircraft machine guns; and also fireworks. Sometimes at first it's difficult to distinguish between the two. I have to say that what's going on behind me now is relatively quiet. It seems that after three days of nonstop partying these people have decided to give it a bit of a rest tonight. But the mood here has been absolutely jubilant and now that Colonel Gaddafi is dead, people seem to be released from any inhibitions that they'd earlier been living under.

Mullins: Yeah, that's for sure, you can tell by some of the noises behind you right now. I hope you're safe, Gabriel, but assuming that you are let me just ask you a couple more quick things here. What happens to Gaddafi's body right now? Do we know?

Gatehouse: We don't. I've been speaking to a source who's very well connected and who's been very reliable on this so far, and he says there are talks ongoing between the military authorities from Misrata who captured Colonel Gaddafi and the political authorities in Benghazi, who now supposedly run this country on what to do with it. But the issue hasn't been resolved. And this man said to me that it's possible he'll be buried on Tuesday in Misrata rather than Sirte. I think the feeling is that they don't want it to be public burial. I think there are quite a lot of people who are against the idea of releasing it to members of his, of Colonel Gaddafi's extended family. I think they want to avoid any possibility that his final resting place could become some sort of a shrine. But at the moment we are no clearer on what's actually happening.

Mullins: All right, the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Misrata, Libya. Thank you for the latest, Gabriel.

Gatehouse: My pleasure.