Tripoli, Oct 23: An autopsy confirmed that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi died from a gunshot to the head, the country's chief pathologist said today, just hours before Libya's new leaders were to declare liberation and a formal end to an eight-month civil war to topple the longtime ruler's regime.
The declaration starts the clock on a transition to democracy that is fraught with uncertainty and could take up to two years.
However, international concern about the circumstances of Gaddafi's death and indecision over what to do with his remains overshadowed what was to be a joyful day.
Gaddafi's body has been on public display in a commercial freezer in a shopping center in the port city of Misrata, which suffered from a bloody siege by regime forces during the spring.
The 69-year-old was captured wounded, but alive Thursday in his hometown of Sirte as it became the last city to fall to revolutionary forces. Bloody images of Gaddafi being taunted and beaten by his captors have raised questions about whether he was killed in crossfire as suggested by government officials or deliberately executed.
An autopsy completed today in Misrata showed that Gaddafi was killed by a shot to the head, said Libya's chief pathologist Dr Othman al-Zintani. He would not disclose details or elaborate on Gaddafi's final moments, saying he would first deliver a full report to the attorney general.
Libya's interim leaders are to formally declare later today that the country has been liberated. The ceremony is to take place in the eastern city of Benghazi, the revolution's birthplace.