Searching for ‘scapegoats’: Libya to prosecute Gathafi killers
Libya's new leaders vowed on Thursday to bring the killers of Muammar Gaddafi to justice as NATO mulled a possible new role in the North African nation.
"With regards to Gathafi, we do not wait for anybody to tell us," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council at a news conference in Benghazi.
"We had already launched an investigation. We have issued a code of ethics in handling of prisoners of war. I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army," Ghoga said.
"Whoever is responsible for that (Gathafi's killing) will be judged and given a fair trial."
Until now, the NTC had adamantly claimed that Gathafi was killed in crossfire after he was captured in Sirte, his hometown and final bastion.
The statement came as NATO weighed a possible new role in Libya following Gathafi's controversial death, as France said the UN would vote on Thursday to end the alliance's mandate for an air war on October 31.
The NTC has pleaded for an extension to the alliance's mandate, but French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the request was unlikely to be granted.
"The fall of Sirte led the Libyan authorities to declare the liberation of Libyan territory as of October 23," Valero said in Paris.
"Given this evolution, the Security Council should today adopt a resolution putting to an end as of October 31 the authorisations of resolution 1973 allowing the use of force to protect civilians and to ensure the respect of the no-fly zone.
"This resolution reflects the consensus in the Security Council on the need to put an end to the military operations," he said.
Meanwhile, a UN envoy said international inspectors urgently need to visit hundreds of suspected weapons stockpiles in the North African country amid growing fears that huge numbers of shoulder-fired missiles have been looted.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the NTC, on Wednesday said Gathafi loyalists in neighbouring countries still posed a threat to his fledgling administration and urged NATO to continue its Libya campaign.
His fears were heightened by reports from security sources that Gathafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who fled Libya, had passed from Niger into Mali.
"Abdullah al-Senussi has arrived in the Malian desert, from Niger," where he was believed to be hiding under the protection of some Tuaregs, a Niger security source said.
The information was confirmed by a security source from northern Mali, who said Senussi was travelling with a small group.
It was not known if Gathafi's son and heir-apparent Seif al-Islam was with them. Seif was earlier reported to be hiding in Niger after his father was killed in Sirte on October 20.
Senussi, 62, who is also Gathafi's brother-in-law, and Seif are subjects of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court on June 27 for crimes against humanity, which also targeted Gathafi.
The Beeld newspaper in Johannesburg said on Thursday that South African mercenaries who allegedly took part in Gathafi's failed escape bid are still taking care of Seif, but did not say where.
The South Africans were training Gathafi's presidential guard and had reportedly been involved in transporting Gathafi's gold, diamonds and foreign currency to Niger, and helping his wife and three of children flee Tripoli, the Afrikaans-language paper said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said discussions had started at NATO headquarters in Brussels and with Libya's NTC about the end of the UN mandate.
She said the NTC "may foresee a future role for NATO," and that discussions have been held about that as well.
"Some things have been discussed, like support for border security, support for demobilisation, decommissioning of weapons, these kinds of things," she said.
UN Security Council approval in March for a no-fly zone and military action to protect civilians has caused divisions on the body ever since. Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil and India have accused NATO of going beyond the mandate with the air strikes against Gathafi.
Libya's deputy UN envoy Ibrahim Dabbashi had told the council that the NTC may have to ask for an extension of the mandate, saying Libyan national armed forces were not yet ready to take on national security.
The government, he added, was also deciding whether it could monitor its borders following the demise of the Gathafi regime.
UN special envoy to Libya, Ian Martin, told the Security Council that Gathafi's regime had "accumulated the largest known stockpile of anti-aircraft missiles," raising concerns over looting and their likely proliferation.