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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2011-10-21

'Shocking footage'

Papers, short on detail about Muammar Gaddafi's final moments, turn to photos for impact. Some of the shots of the deceased Libyan dictatorship are stomach-churning and have sparked controversy. Gaddafi's end is the focus for this international press review, Friday 21st October 2011.

The International Herald Tribune headlines: “Gaddafi’s brutal end”. It says “European power was felt in the conflict” and now European politicians and generals are rejoicing. It adds that “if anything cast a pall on the celebration it was the question of whether a NATO air strike on a convoy near Sirte might have contributed to - or directly - caused Gaddafi’s death, something not specifically authorised by UN resolutions”.

The Guardian International has some quotes from the late Libyan leader. He said on March 23rd - after UN-backed air strikes began - that “this assault is by a bunch of fascists who will end up in the dustbin of history”. Earlier, on February 22nd, he said “I will not leave this land, I will die as a martyr”.

The Lebanese paper Al Safir, in its editorial, says that it is as yet too early to judge the impact of Gaddafi’s death because Libyans are struggling with daily life. For the future, it points to the divisions within the current Libyan leadership, marked by tribal and ideological differences. And says the great challenge is the “foreign world”, which presents itself as the “liberator”.

The Bahrain-based paper Gulf News has a piece: “Muammar Gaddafi – the demise of a despot”. It says the leader thought he could weather the Arab Spring and cow his people into submission but “in the end, the man with the larger than life personality, was blown away as surely and as brutally as an unsuspecting airliner climbing through the skies”.

The connection between Gaddafi and the attack on the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988 is being spelled out in the British tabloids in no uncertain terms. The Sun pulls no punches with a close-up of Gaddafi’s bloodied head and the headline: “That’s for Lockerbie. And for Yvonne Fletcher. And IRA Semtex bomb victims”. Another British tabloid, the Daily Mirror is headlining “Shocking Footage”, again with a gruesome picture of the corpse. The sub-heading there is “Pleading tyrant shown no mercy by rebels” and the headline “Don’t Shoot”, a reference to what were reportedly his words on being found.

Two tweets slam those British papers. One by Parmindernagra says “The Mirror’s Gaddafi front page is as bad as [The] Sun’s … When did this become OK”?. And that thought is echoed by Mike Burgess, who says: “I was no fan of Gaddafi but do we have to revel in this?”

Still with Lockerbie, the Scottish paper The Herald is reporting that authorities there are standing by, ready to investigate any new lines of inquiry that may now emerge. First Minister Alex Salmond is quoted as saying “Gaddafi lived by the sword and met his just desserts”. The Lockerbie case, Salmond says, remains open. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi is the only person convicted for the attack, however Salmond says “he did not act alone”.

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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