Gaddafi ‘wanted death, not ICC trial’

2011-10-31 14:28

Misrata – Depressed and worried, Muammar Gaddafi wanted to die in Libya rather than face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), one of his henchmen said of the Libyan dictator’s last days.

In June, ICC judges issued arrest warrants against Gaddafi, who was killed on October 20, his son Saif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, for “crimes against humanity”.

For Mansur Daou, former head of internal security services, currently in a Misrata prison, the ICC measure strengthened Gaddafi’s resolve to avoid at any cost facing an international tribunal.

“Gaddafi and his son decided to stay in Libya after the arrest warrants. Gaddafi said ‘I would rather die in Libya than face trial and be judged by [ICC prosecutor Luis] Moreno-Ocampo,” Daou told AFP in an interview.

“Saif al-Islam and his brother Mutassim wanted Gaddafi to stay in Libya, particularly Saif,” who was considered as heir apparent, said Daou.

“But Senussi was pressing Gaddafi to leave the country,” he added.

On August 19, National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters reached the outskirts of Tripoli, forcing Gaddafi to flee to his hometown Sirte, where he enjoyed support. Libya’s capital fell two days later.

“Gaddafi knew it was over after his troops were pushed out of Misrata,” a major hub of the uprising, on April 25, said Daou.

“He became more and more nervous.”

Gaddafi “was also under pressure because his friends abandoned him”, he said naming French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime ministers of Italy and Turkey, Silvio Berlusconi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and former British premier Tony Blair.

“He considered them close friends and this got to him,” said Daou.

In the Mediterranean city of Sirte, Gaddafi lived first in a hotel, but he moved out in mid-September when NTC forces closed in on the suburbs and almost every night he changed his location for safety reasons.

But his food supplies began to dwindle as bombs rained in on the city. Fighting intensified while electricity and water were cut.

“Gaddafi was depressed and very worried. It was unusual to see him like that,” said Daou, who was in charge of the deposed leader’s security.

Mutassim, who was also killed, was leading the battles in Sirte, while Saif, who is currently on the run, never set foot there and, from August 27, sought haven in Bani Walid, another pro-Gaddafi bastion that fell just before Sirte.

“I didn’t see him [Saif] after that,” said Daou.

During his last days in hiding Gaddafi read a lot, but did not fight, Daou recalls.

“Gaddafi read books, took notes and slept, while Mutassim was commanding his fighters. Gaddafi did not fight. He was too old,” said Daou of the strongman, who was 69 when he was killed.

Huge mistake
On October 19, the situation seemed hopeless: The last square in Sirte’s Number Two neighbourhood was heavily pounded by the NTC and Nato.

Gaddafi and his remaining loyalists decided to leave, further south towards Wadi Jaref.

“It was a huge mistake. It was Mutassim’s idea. There were about 45 vehicles, 160-180 men, some of them were wounded,” said Daou.

“Instead of leaving as planned around three in the morning that day, they left three or four hours later because Mutassim’s volunteers were poorly organised.”

Disquiet has grown internationally over how Gaddafi met his end after NTC fighters hauled him out of a culvert where he was hiding following Nato air strikes on the convoy in which he had been trying to flee his falling hometown.

Cellphone videos showed him still alive at that point.

Subsequent footage showed a now-bloodied Gaddafi being hustled through a frenzied crowd, before he disappears in the crush and the crackle of gunfire can be heard.

NTC leaders are adamant he was shot in the head when he was caught “in crossfire” between his supporters and new regime fighters soon after his capture.

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