International human-rights groups called Friday for an investigation into the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as gory new videos showed him being spat at and punched by revolutionaries and as skepticism mounted about official claims that he was shot in crossfire after being captured.
The new cellphone videos cast a shadow over the revolutionaries even as they were celebrating the end of their eight-month struggle to wrest control of the country with NATO air support.
"The government version certainly does not fit with the reality we have seen on the ground," said Peter Boukaert of Human Rights Watch, who has been investigating the capture of Gadhafi on Thursday in his home town of Sirte.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the new Libyan government had "pledged to provide a full accounting of what happened, what transpired leading up to his death. And we look to them to do that."
A U.N. official said a panel set up to investigate abuses in Libya would probably take up the matter of Gadhafi's death.
"More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
The firestorm over Gadhafi's death occurred as NATO announced its military mission would come to an end Oct. 31. "I'm very proud of what we have achieved, together with our partners," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels, Belgium.
Meanwhile, the ruling National Transitional Council said it would declare the country's liberation today, the starting point for a timetable that calls for a new interim government within a month and elections within eight months.
However, a dead Gadhafi was proving almost as troublesome for the interim government as when he he was alive.
Senior officials met into the night to consider the demands for an investigation and figure out how to bury Gadhafi secretly so that the grave wouldn't become a pilgrimage site.
His body was stored Friday in a refrigerated room normally used as a meat locker in Misrata, the home of the fighters who captured him, and local citizens were allowed to file by.
Snatches of cellphone video posted to YouTube and played on Arab-language television showed the revolutionaries trying to raise Gadhafi from the ground after his capture Thursday. His face was dripping with blood, and his shirt splotched with crimson. But he was clearly alive.
"You dog! This is Misrata. Misrata captured you," they taunted him. One spat in his face.
"Have pity! Don't hit me!" Gadhafi cried. "NOW you know pity!" one man responded.
Another video showed Gadhafi being punched and hit as he was splayed on a trunk hood.
Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril had said Thursday that Gadhafi was uninjured when he was captured but was fatally shot in the head in crossfire between revolutionaries and loyalist forces as he was driven away in a truck.
But Boukaert, of Human Rights Watch, said Friday that interviews with revolutionary commanders and loyalist fighters traveling with Gadhafi produced a very different account.
"Commanders I spoke to said chaos ensued" after Gadhafi was captured, with revolutionaries yanking his hair and abusing him, Boukaert said. Boukaert said Gadhafi had been shot in the leg and stomach before his capture but that he was "certainly not mortally wounded."
There were no reports in Sirte of firefights as Gadhafi was driven away, Boukaert said. "The rebels are not ashamed about it," he said of the killing.
The Associated Press quoted a 21-year-old fighter who reported riding in the vehicle with Gadhafi out of Sirte as saying Gadhafi died en route to a field hospital of wounds he had already suffered. The fighter, Siraq al-Hamali, did not mention the vehicle coming under fire, AP reported. A coroner listed Gadhafi's cause of death as a bullet in the head and a chest wound.
"If Col. Gadhafi was killed after he was captured, it would constitute a war crime and those responsible should be brought to justice," Claudio Cordone, senior director at Amnesty International, said. The group called for an independent investigation into the death.
While human-rights groups said the deaths could throw into question the democratic credentials of the new Libya, people here seemed unconcerned at the manner in which Gadhafi was killed. The issue did not come up in a sermon about the new Libya to hundreds of jubilant, flag-waving people who gathered for Friday prayers in Tripoli's Martyr Square, formerly known as Green Square.
New videos also raised questions about how Gadhafi's son Mutassim died Thursday. The video clip shows him seemingly lucid, sitting and smoking a cigarette as he is taunted by an off-screen revolutionary.
Also muddled was the fate of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the only Gadhafi son who reportedly survived after his father's Aug. 21 ouster. It appeared Friday that he was still at large. .