Gaddafi killed, say Libyan officials

Major news agencies reporting that the former dictator has died after being arrested. Warning: conta

The image above --taken on a mobile phone -- appears to show Muammar Gaddafi being arrested in Sirte.

It is now being reported by major news agencies including Reuters that the former dictator has died of his injuries. Sky News has played a video which appears to show Gaddafi's body being dragged through the streets of Sirte.

This comes after revolutionaries took Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and the final stronghold of his loyalists.

Earlier today, the Information Centre for the Misrata Military Council said:

Now in contact with our correspondent at the front of the Sirte. The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi was arrested. God is great and thank God.

Following this, the National Transitional Council's information minister, Mahmoud Shammam, appeared on al-Jazeera. He stopped short of confirming the claim -- which was being widely reported on Libyan TV -- but alluded to the rumour:

I think we can say that Sirte is liberated ...I think the celebrations are going on right now. Also there's big talk about some big fish on their way to Misrata. I cannot confirm anything but people over there are talking they caught a big fish.

Asked about the NTC's intentions if Gaddafi had been captured, he said:

We are going to put him in front of the court, we're not going to hang him in the street. We are going to give him the fair trial he never gave the Libyan people. We hope that we are catching some big names so we can put them in the court and let the people have the last word on their fate ...I think every Libyan wants to see Gaddafi stand trial.

Abdel Majid, another NTC official, appeared to confirm the capture by telling Reuters that Gaddafi was injured in both legs.

UPDATE - 12.56: Al-Jazeera and Reuters are both reporting that Gaddafi has been killed.

 

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.