Gaddafi: 'He died an angry and disappointed man'

Katya Adler meets members of Gaddafi's inner circle

Bombed-out devastation is pretty much all you see when you drive in to Misrata.

A few men sit on shabby orange sofas in front of the rubble that lines the main road. The only real sign of life here is the newly-dubbed Misrata Museum where weapons seized from Gaddafi loyalists and other spoils of war are displayed and gloated over.

But one of Misrata's prized trophies is very much hidden from public view.

Mansour Dhao Ibrahim is one of Libya's most wanted - a man believed to have ordered the killing, rape and torture of the opponents of Col Muammar Gaddafi.

It is thought he knows the whereabouts of several mass graves of anti-Gaddafi fighters.

Mansour Dhao's interrogation was briefly stopped to allow us to talk to him. He was sitting crossed-legged and bare-foot on the floor when we met him, a Koran in front of him and a slightly blood-smeared mattress beside him.

A trusted member of Col Gaddafi's inner circle, Mansour Dhao was captured with him in Sirte. He provides a rare insight into the former dictator's state of mind in his last hours and days.

"Gaddafi was nervous. He couldn't make any calls or communicate with the outside world. We had little food or water. Sanitation was bad," he told me.

"He paced up and down in a small room, writing in a notebook. We knew it was over. Gaddafi said, 'I am wanted by the International Criminal Court. No country will accept me. I prefer to die by Libyan hands'."

Suicide mission

Mansour Dhao said Col Gaddafi then made the decision to go to his birthplace, the nearby valley of Jarref. I asked if it was a suicide mission.

Anti-Gaddafi fighters stand in front of damaged cars after an attack by Nato on Gaddafi's convoy in Sirte The convoy of vehicles in which Col Gaddafi was travelling was hit by a Nato air strike in Sirte

"It was a suicide mission," Mansour Dhao said. "We felt he wanted to die in the place he was born. He didn't say it explicitly, but he was going with the purpose to die."

But Col Gaddafi's plan was thwarted - his convoy was bombed by Nato.

The once-feared dictator scrambled into a water pipe for cover. That is where he was found and captured.

With him inside the water pipe was Huneish Nasr, Col Gaddafi's personal driver.

When we spoke to him at the detention centre, he was wearing the same bloody shirt he was wounded in that day.

Start Quote

He thought his people should love him until the end. He felt he had done so many good things for them and for Libya”

End Quote Mansour Dhao Aide to Col Gaddafi

He said: "Gaddafi got out of the pipe. I stayed inside. I couldn't get out. There was such a crowd of fighters.

"Gaddafi had nowhere to go. He was one man amongst many and the fighters were shouting, 'Gaddafi, Gaddafi, Gaddafi'."

Huneish Nasr was nervous and clearly mindful of his captors, two of whom stood with us in the room, their arms folded.

His black eyes darted around the room.

He insisted over and over that the fighters who captured Col Gaddafi did not shoot when they came towards him.

'Angry and disappointed'

He said Col Gaddafi did not seem surprised to see them approach. He said he seemed resigned.

But Mansour Dhao believes Col Gaddafi died an angry and disappointed man.

A soldier walks past the house of former leader Muammar Gaddafi as it is demolished by a bulldozer in Tripoli His home and his regime have been destroyed but after Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's future is uncertain

"He thought his people should love him until the end. He felt he had done so many good things for them and for Libya. He also felt betrayed by men who had seemed to be his friends, like Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi," he said.

When I asked about terror and torture, the men were less forthcoming. They fear for their lives. If found guilty in Libya, Mansour Dhao could be hanged.

Still, while waiving any personal responsibility, Mansour Dhao spoke about crimes of the Gaddafi regime that are well-known but rarely confirmed by a Gaddafi loyalist.

He said opponents of Col Gaddafi were tortured, that he openly sponsored international terrorism and that the Lockerbie bombing was planned by Gaddafi's external security.

He said one of Gaddafi's most terrible moments was when he ordered the mass murder of around 1,200 essentially political prisoners in Abu Salim jail in Tripoli back in 1996.

The fate of Mansour Dhao and Huneish Nasr is uncertain.

Will the fighters of Misrata hand over their prisoners, along with their weapons and their newly-found power, to the new transitional authorities in Libya?

Or will regional rivalries blight Libya's future before the problems of the past are solved?

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