ICC Demands Release Of Lawyers Detained In Zintan
The president of the International Criminal Court has demanded the release of four ICC lawyers detained in Zintan last Thursday, after one was accused of smuggling “dangerous” documents to Saif Qaddafi.
ICC president Sang-Hyun Song said last night: “I call on the Libyan authorities to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them”.
The ICC chief continued: “We are very concerned about the safety of our staff in the absence of any contact with them. These four international civil servants have immunity when on an official ICC mission.”
Further details have emerged about the arrest and detention of Australian Melinda Taylor, who is one of the council appointed by the ICC to assist with Qaddafi’s defence, as and when he is extradited to face trial in the Hague, as the court is demanding and Libya is refusing.
AFP reports that arrested along with Taylor was an unidentified woman who was apparently acting as the Australian’s interpreter. This female, who also claimed to be a nurse was, it is being alleged, searched by a policewoman and found to have a camera.
Though the visit to Qaddafi in his Zintan prison was authorised by Libya’s chief prosecutor, it is being claimed that Taylor did not first declare the documents before trying to give them to her client.
The commander of the Zintan brigade that is holding Qaddafi, Ajmi al-Atiri held a news conference last night in which he explained that after a “security breach”, Taylor had been detained for questioning,
Atiri maintained that there had been an attempt to exchange documents, among which was an unsigned letter from Saif Qaddafi, saying that he was being ill-treated and that “ there is no government or law in Libya”.
The Zintan commander also asserted that Qaddafi had sought to pass over a blank signed document to Taylor.
The documents which the lawyer is alleged to have tried to give Qaddafi were supposedly from his former close aide Mohammed Ismail, now in Egypt.
Atiri revealed that since Thursday he had received several telephone calls from NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil requesting the ICC party be released immediately.
Atiri said that he had been “surprised” by this intervention.
A foreign ministry official, Mohammed Abdulaziz told AFP last night that Libya was going to request the ICC waive Taylor’s immunity, so that formal investigations could begin.
“I think the woman will be with us for a while until the waiver is granted by the International Criminal Court so we can formally start the investigations,” he said.