BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya’s rebel council knows who killed their top military commander but will not immediately identify them for fear the information will hurt the revolution, the council’s chairman said on Thursday.
Rebel military commander Abdel Fattah Younes, Gaddafi’s interior minister before defecting to the rebels on February 22, was killed on July 28 after he was taken into custody by his own side for questioning, sparking an investigation into his death.
“They have reached a final conclusion and the identities of those who assassinated (Younes) have started appearing,” National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference.
“They will be arrested at a time when the higher interests of this revolution will not be damaged.”
Jalil gave no more detail about the suspects but the suggestion their arrest could damage the campaign against Gaddafi would appear to suggest they were members or supporters of the rebel movement.
Rebel leaders had previously hinted at the involvement of pro-Gaddafi elements. The killing fanned fears of a violent splits within the disparate rebel movement that includes numerous factions and militia groups.
Rebel authorities have declined to give any details of the investigation although the rebels’ “cabinet” was dismissed this month in connection with the case.
Jalil said the murder of Younes, as well as his two aides, was a conspiracy and was not related to any “treason or criminal activity” on their part. “It was a conspiracy that nearly brought down the revolution,” Jalil said.
Younes had been called to the rebel bastion of Benghazi for questioning in connection with “mistakes at the front line” when he and his two companions were killed.
Members of the tribe to which Younes belonged have been demanding a thorough and transparent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis