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philip-hammondLONDON: Britain's new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday that the reputation of Libya's new leaders had been "stained" by the killing of ousted dictator Moamer Qadhafi.

Hammond said he would like to see an investigation into the death of Qadhafi, who was captured alive during the fall of his hometown Sirte on Thursday.

"It's certainly not the way we do things, it's not the way we would have liked it to have happened," he told BBC television.

"We would have liked to see Colonel Qadhafi going on trial, ideally at the International Criminal Court, to answer for his misdeeds not only in Libya but of course the many acts of terrorism that he supported and perpetrated outside Libya, of which we in Britain have a disproportionately large number of victims.

"The fledgling Libyan government will understand that its reputation in the international community is a little bit stained by what happened.

"I'm sure that it will want to get to the bottom of it in a way that rebuilds and cleanses that reputation."

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has said that an interim government would be formed within one month of the declaration that the conflict is over, followed within eight months by elections for a constitutional assembly.

The uprising against Qadhafi began in February and was backed later by a NATO air war, in which Britain and France played the leading roles.

Hammond welcomed the announcement on Libya's first free elections in 42 years and said a new government would have to take into account all sides in the north African country.

"We've intervened in the way that we did under the UN resolution to protect Libyan civilians while they freed themselves from the tyranny of Qadhafi," Hammond said.

"They now have to work out how to take Libya forward, what their future is.

"The announcement of elections within eight months is a very good first step forward but it's for the Libyan people now to work out how to form the coalition of interests that will be necessary if this is going to be a stable and prosperous country in the future."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011

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