It’s an iconic piece of video.
For more than three minutes, you see a mob of enraged men toss Moammar Gadhafi around like a broken mannequin. His body and face bloody, his black bushy hair a crazy mess, the 69-year-old is pummeled. His shirt is ripped open to reveal a pudgy belly.
The cell phone capturing the scene focuses on a gulf of red spreading across the Libyan dictator’s backside as someone stabs him in the rear with a bayonet.
It didn’t take long before the video was uploaded to the Internet, and the world’s news organizations were broadcasting it.
The end of the eight-month uprising in 2011, inspired by the toppling of regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, seemed to have come to a grotesque end on October 20.
It’s still not officially clear how Gadhafi died because there’s never been a formal investigation, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in a 50-page report that details his death and the events leading up to it.
The rights group has obtained witness accounts and examined amateur videos shot with cell phones. One of the famous images captured on the day the mob got Gadhafi shows a young man holding a golden pistol triumphantly in the air as he’s cheered.
A storyline heavily repeated in the media is that the fallen dictator was shot in the head with his own gilded weapon.
The killing of Gadhafi and the fall of his Libya is a dramatic story, but it’s missing one very important part.
The rights group says the militiamen who ravaged Gadhafi and captured, tortured and killed his loyalists are possibly responsible for war crimes because killing someone in detention is recognized as such under international law. HRW lambastes Libya’s current transitional government, saying it has taken no serious steps in investigating or prosecuting anti-Gadhafi militias.
If Libya is going to truly rid itself of violence and extremists — a timely demand considering last month’s U.S. consulate attack — justice, the group believes, must be meted out on all sides.
CNN reached out to Libyan authorities Wednesday for comment on the Human Rights Watch report, but none responded immediately.