As family days out, it must rank as one of the more bizarre and macabre.
Men, women and children lined-up in the hot sunshine yesterday for a chance to view the corpse of Muammar Gaddafi, the dead Libyan dictator and self-styled King of Kings.
In a refrigerated store room at a shopping centre - normally used to store chickens before being stacked on the shelves - the chance to glimpse the decaying corpse of Gaddafi was the sole attraction in Misrata, once Libya's richest city and now reduced to rubble after the war.
Gruesome: Andrew Malone crouched over the body of the former self-styled King of Kings
Observers look on as Andrew Malone views the body lying in a makeshift mortuary in Misrata
After he was captured alive on Thursday, hiding in a drainpipe and begging for his life, the cadaver of Gaddafi - along with Mutassim, his son, and ex-defense minister Abu Bakr Younis - was taken by truck and deposited in the meat chilling room at the shopping centre on the outskirts of the city.
Now the country's new rulers are facing their first conundrums: what do with Gaddafi's body, now discoloured and fast decaying after four days in the chicken chill room, as well as how to deal with mounting evidence that the dictator was taunted and tortured before being shot in cold blood
With residents of Libya's major cities refusing to have the dictator buried in their midst, and calls by Gaddafi's wife for the body to be sent to be with her in exile in Algeria, the country's military chiefs are even discussing secretly disposing of the body in the Mediterranean.
'We don't want a shrine to him,' one commander told me yesterday. 'He doesn't deserve a proper burial. We need to get rid of the body the way the Americans dealt with Osama Bin Laden (who was dumped at sea in secret location.'
But any decision on what to do with the body was delayed again yesterday as a post-mortem was carried out before the first families were allowed into the shopping centre, which is now surrounded by soldiers.
And it came as calls mounted for a probe into the circumstances of Gaddafi's last hours, which overshadowed by Libya's new rulers Sunday to declare liberation and a formal end to the eight-month civil war.
Hundreds of ordinary Libyans, including women and children, queue to see the corpse of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi
Waiting in line: Libyans wait patiently to see Gaddafi's body
Cameras ready: Two women give peace signs before entering the makeshift mortuary
Stench: Libyan people cover their faces as they visit the body of their slain former leader inside a storage freezer in Misrata
Decomposing: People were keen to see Gaddafi's body, which has been lying in the room for four days, and know for themselves that the fallen strongman was dead
As the post-mortem confirmed that Gaddafi died from a gunshot to the head, Libyan officials continued to back official claims that wounded Gaddafi was killed in cross-fire following his capture.
With Britain and American both calling for a full-investigation, western leaders claimed that the revolution has been a 'little bit stained' by the circumstances of his death.
Philip Hammond, the British defence secretary, said: 'It's certainly not the way we do things. We would have liked to see Colonel Gaddafi going on trial to answer for his misdeeds.'
'TREND OF KILLINGS' SWEEPS LIBYA
But Mahmoud Jibril, the acting Libyan prime minister, insisted there is 'no reason' to doubt the credibility of an official report that the ousted leader died in cross-fire.
'Have you seen a video of somebody killing him? I haven't seen any video tape or mobile film that shows somebody is killing Gaddafi,' Jibril told reporters.
Despite these claims, new evidence emerged yesterday that Gaddafi was driven to several different locations in the back of a lorry, where he was beaten and taunted by excited crowds.
Incredibly, officials now believe that he fled to Sirte, his birthplace, within days of the capital Tripoli falling in August. Investigators believe he was holed up with around 500 loyal body-guards, whose bodies still lay strewn about the city after the dictator was captured there on Thursday.
Besieged inside the city of 150,000 as rebels backed by NATO airstrikes assumed control of the rest of the country, Gaddafi first tried to escape by sea as the fighters closed in last week.
But after his convoy came under attack, Gaddafi and his men drove back into their stronghold – only to be hit by NATO airstrikes. While Muttasim fled in one direction, Gaddafi was captured alive in a drainage pipe.
According to those present, groups of soldiers started beating him with their shoes and clubs, while others tried to tie him to the bonnet of a vehicle to be driven through the streets.
As chaos ensued, a group of rebels bundled Gaddafi into the back of a pick-up and drove away. He was taken to several locations on the way and beaten.
Grisly sight: Shell-shocked Libyans look at the bloodied body of their former leader Muammar Gaddafi and take photos
Children were among the crowds waiting to see the former dictator's remains
Playful: Children play in the street as the queue stretches back
Some rebels spat on Gaddafi – and one man even broke his foot kicking him as others pulled at his hair, determined to take away a piece of the man who had ruled with an iron fist for 42 years.
According to investigators from Human Rights Watch, Gaddafi did not have any bullet wounds to the head when he was captured and first driven a way, suggesting he was shot later after being beaten.
After being allowed to view the bodies, as well as take statements from those present, officials from the New York-based rights group privately acknowledge there is little doubt that Gaddafi was executed.
GADDAFI'S DEATH HAS 'STAINED' THE IMAGE OF THE UPRISING
'The fighters we met were unapologetic - it was one mad man attempting to keep to power,' one investigator told me. 'They don't feel the need to apologise. He killed them – so they killed him.
Indeed, the manner of Gaddafi's death - now also the centre of calls for a United Nations war crime probe - was not of the remotest concern to those who queued patiently for hours in the hope of seeing the corpse yesterday.
As I joined the queue, groups of women who had lost husbands and sons in the war were the first to be let into the storage room - the size of the average living room and empty except for bundles inside blankets laid out in a line.
Amid the overpowering stench of death, I came first to the body of Muttassim, the dictator's son, who had led the onslaught against the civilian fighters who rose up to challenge his father's rule.
With gruesome rumours that Muttassim's genitals had been grossly mutiliated before he, too, was shot dead by his captors, soldiers guarding the bodies refused let anyone pull back the blankets covering the body, with only the head showing.
Muattasim's father was alongside him in the centre of the room – again, covered in rough blankets, which had been used to carry the body around while they searched for a suitable storage facility.
With his vital organs removed to try to prevent further decay, the dictator's face is now badly discoloured and still bearing spatters of blood from a single gunshot wound to the side of the head. Alongside him, in a similar state, lay Younis.
'We brought our children to see him today because this is a chance to see history,' a man called Mohammed said, holding the hands of his two sons. 'We want to see this arrogant person as a lifeless body. Let all the people see him.'
With fears that factional fighting may break out because of a power vacuum, the people here yesterday were refusing to countenance the idea of more bloodshed, preferring to wait patiently in the sun to see the King of Kings lying dead in a chicken fridge.
Public spectacle: Young children queue to see the body displayed in a meat locker in Misrata
Flying the flag: A father brought his three sons to see the fallen dictator
Historic moment: Fighters and ordinary Libyans gathered at the site
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