MUAMMAR GADDAFI died from wounds he suffered in an attack by rebels after he had already been captured and not in a firefight, according to a major report today on the Libyan dictator's last hours.
In the most definitive account to date of his final moments, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Gaddafi was injured by shrapnel from a hand grenade that exploded yards from him as he tried to escape his home town of Sirte.
He was then stabbed in the rear with a bayonet by one of his captors, causing catastrophic loss of blood, the report says. The former dictator may already have been dead by the time a bullet was apparently fired into his head.
The report also says that rebels executed Gaddafi's son Muttasim and dozens of their followers.
The doctor who later carried out the post-mortem examination on 69-year-old Gaddafi was threatened with death in order to keep his findings quiet, it says.
HRW researchers worked for a year to compile today's report, which is based on video evidence and witness accounts of the dictator's last moments.
Hours before his death, a 50-car convoy of 250 fighters, including Gaddafi and his inner circle, had tried to make a break from Sirte. HRW believes 103 were then killed in a confrontation with rebels, while Gaddafi was captured as he sought refuge in a drainage ditch with his defence minister, Abu Bakr Younis, and one of their guards.
According to the report, the guard tried to throw a grenade at their rebel attackers, but it accidentally bounced back into the ditch.
Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said: "Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture." (© Daily Telegraph, London)