Wed September 26, 2012 12:31pm
THE young man who purportedly discovered Libya's Muammar Gaddafi hiding in a drainage pipe nearly a year ago has died of injuries after being kidnapped, beaten and slashed by the late dictator's supporters.
He is the latest victim of persistent violence and instability in the North African country.
The death yesterday of Omran Shaaban, who had been hospitalised in France, raised the prospect of even more violence and score-settling, with the newly elected National Congress authorising police and the army to use force if necessary to apprehend those who abducted the 22-year-old and three companions in July near the town of Bani Walid.
Libya is battling lingering pockets of support for the old Gaddafi regime, and its government has been unable to rein in armed militias in a country rife with weapons. Earlier this month, a demonstration at the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi turned violent, killing four Americans, including the US ambassador.
Shaaban was praised as a "dutiful martyr'' by the National Congress, although his family says he never received a promised reward of 1 million Libyan dinars ($A773,432) for capturing Gaddafi on October 20, 2011, in the former leader's hometown of Sirte. The eccentric dictator was killed later that day by revolutionary fighters.
The Libyan government said it would honour Shaaban with a funeral befitting a hero. His body was greeted at the airport in his hometown of Misrata by more than 10,000 people for a procession to a soccer stadium for funeral prayers.
Photos on social media websites showed a wooden coffin with a glass window that revealed Shaaban's face, with white gauze covering his head.
In the capital of Tripoli, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the National Congress to demand that the government avenge Shaaban's death.