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© Agence France-Presse / Abdullah Doma
Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council
Libya's new leaders vowed on Thursday to bring Moamer Kadhafi's killers to justice in a sharp break with their previous insistence he was caught in the crossfire with his own loyalists.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to end the mandate for international military action in Libya, ending another chapter in the war against Kadhafi's toppled regime.

"With regards to Kadhafi, we do not wait for anybody to tell us," Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), told a news conference in Benghazi.

"We had already launched an investigation. We have issued a code of ethics in handling of prisoners of war. There were some violations by those who are unfortunately described as revolutionaries. I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army," the top interim official said.

"We had issued a statement saying that any violations of human rights will be investigated by the NTC. Whoever is responsible for that (Kadhafi's killing) will be judged and given a fair trial."

Ghoga, who spoke in Arabic and whose remarks were translated by an official interpreter, was responding to specific questions about Kadhafi's death and potential abuses.

Until now, the NTC had adamantly claimed that Kadhafi was killed in crossfire after he was captured in Sirte, his hometown and final bastion.

Disquiet has grown internationally over how Kadhafi met his end after NTC fighters hauled him out of a culvert where he was hiding following NATO air strikes on the convoy in which he had been trying to flee his falling hometown.

Mobile phone videos show him still alive at that point.

Subsequent footage shows a now-bloodied but walking Kadhafi being hustled through a frenzied crowd, before he disappears in the crush and the crackle of gunfire can be heard.

In New York, meanwhile, a Security Council resolution ordered the end of the authorisation for a no-fly zone and action to protect civilians from 11:59 pm Libyan time (2159 GMT) on October 31.

Security Council Resolution 2016 also eased an international arms embargo, freezes on the assets of the Libyan National Oil Corp and virtually all restrictions on the central bank and other key institutions.

It also ended the ban on international flights by Libyan registered planes.

Without mentioning Kadhafi's death, the Security Council expressed "grave concern" over "reprisals, arbitrary detentions, wrongful imprisonment and extra-judicial executions in Libya."

It called for "respect for human rights and the rule of law" and for Libyan authorities "to refrain from reprisals."

The resolution also stressed the interim government's responsibility to protect foreign nationals and African migrants.

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Security Council decision shows the country has entered a "new era."

He warned, however, that after Kadhafi's controversial killing it was "vital" for Libya's new rulers to respect human rights.

NATO's decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, is to meet on Friday in Brussels to formally declare an end to its seven-month air war.

NATO weighed a possible new role in Libya following Kadhafi's death and US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said discussions had started at NATO headquarters in Brussels and with the NTC about the end of the UN mandate.

She said the NTC "may foresee a future role for NATO," and that discussions have been held about that as well.

NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Wednesday Kadhafi loyalists in neighbouring countries still pose a threat to his fledgling administration and urged NATO to continue its Libya campaign.

His fears were heightened by reports that Kadhafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who fled Libya, had passed from Niger into Mali.

When asked about that, Ghoga said: "We did hear, and more or less it is confirmed, that Abdullah Senussi has crossed into Niger."

It was not known if Kadhafi's son and heir-apparent Seif al-Islam was with him. Seif was earlier reported to be hiding in Niger after his father was killed in Sirte on October 20.

Senussi, 62, who is also Kadhafi's brother-in-law, and Seif are subjects of arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court on June 27 for crimes against humanity, which also targeted Kadhafi.

Libya's deputy UN envoy Ibrahim Dabbashi had told the council that the NTC may have to ask for an extension of the mandate, saying Libyan armed forces were not yet ready to take on national security.

The government, he added, was also deciding whether it could monitor its borders following the demise of the Kadhafi regime.

Meanwhile, the Beeld newspaper in Johannesburg said on Thursday that South African mercenaries who allegedly took part in Kadhafi's failed escape bid are still taking care of Seif, but did not say where.

The South Africans were training Kadhafi's presidential guard and had reportedly been involved in transporting Kadhafi's gold, diamonds and foreign currency to Niger, and helping his wife and three of his children flee Tripoli, the Afrikaans-language paper said.