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Mr. Gadhafi himself never spoke of leaving his homeland.

“We have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya,” he told CNN Turk after rebels took the Libyan city of Benghazi in February.

After the rebels stormed into Tripoli on Aug. 21, they announced that they had captured him.

But he turned up in the middle of the night two days later at the luxury Rixos Hotel, where journalists were confined, flashing a big smile and a V-for-victory sign.

Appearing confident and defiant, he got into a white limousine escorted by armored SUVs and took reporters on a tour of “the hottest spots in Tripoli.”

That’s the last time he was seen in public - wearing a full beard in place of his usual designer stubble and dressed in camouflage trousers and a green T-shirt.