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Story of Gadhafi Ends With an Anonymous Grave in the Desert

October 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next tonight, a secret burial for a leader who performed in the international spotlight for 42 years.

Bill Neely of Independent Television News reports from Tripoli.

BILL NEELY: Once, Colonel Gadhafi might have hoped for a state funeral. Instead, Libya’s new leaders say, some prayers were said. Then he was taken to a secret location and, with just a few witnesses sworn to silence, he was put in an anonymous grave in the desert.

To convince Libyans he was gone for good, the empty meat locker where he’d been on public display for four days — but the manner of his killing and burial has given Libya’s leaders a headache.

COLONEL AHMED BANI, Libyan military spokesman: We win. The tyrant lost.

BILL NEELY: They are triumphant, defending his secret burial, promising an investigation into his killing.

COLONEL AHMED BANI: We are not afraid of the truth, so we will show the people, the whole world, no?

BILL NEELY: On the streets, celebrations at the news that Gadhafi is dead and buried.

MAN: Dead. He stay dead. That’s it.

BILL NEELY: And it’s better to bury him in secret?

MAN: Or drop him in the sea, yes.

WOMAN: I don’t care.

BILL NEELY: You don’t care how he was buried?

WOMAN: No, no.

BILL NEELY: Or where he was buried?

WOMAN: No, no, no, no, no. I don’t care.

BILL NEELY: Only one man disagreed.

MAN: Very bad.

BILL NEELY: Very bad?

MAN: Very bad. Moammar Gadhafi, good man.

BILL NEELY: This government minister says Gadhafi’s killing and burial was better than he deserved.

FAUZY ABU KATAF, Libyan deputy defense minister: We should throw him in the sea, like bin Laden, for example.

BILL NEELY: With Gadhafi dead and buried, fighters have been handing back their weapons, hundreds here, though millions were handed out by Gadhafi or looted from stores.

The war may be over, but Libya is awash with weapons.

Abdel Bassat Hossein (ph) is saying goodbye to his commander after fighting Gadhafi’s men for months. He was an oil engineer who’d never fired a gun before. He’s glad Gadhafi’s now dead, and he’s going home.

MAN: Yes, I don’t need to carry weapon anymore.

BILL NEELY: The war is over?

MAN: The war is over. We — we fight it for the freedom, and now we are free. We freed our — our country.

BILL NEELY: How many people do you really think will give their guns back?

MAN: I think the Libyan people will — will surprise the world.

BILL NEELY: The student fighters guarding Gadhafi’s compound say they will soon give up their weapons, too. Many, of course, will not. But with Gadhafi dead and his compound a house of ghosts, the dark past, like their old leader, is being buried.