It is critical that the recent media circus surrounding the detention of ICC staff not detract in any way from the immediacy of the plight of Saif Gaddafi. If anything, these events reveal how vulnerable Saif is and how much he and all of Libya’s political prisoners need our support. Please join in demanding Saif’s immediate and unconditional release.
Mohammed Harizi believes Melinda Taylor knows the location of Saif Qaddafi’s right hand man.
The NTC’s official spokesman has insisted that detained International Criminal Court (ICC) lawyer Melinda Taylor “will be free” if she divulges the location of Saif Qaddafi’s right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail.
In a remarkable exchange with ABC reporter Michael Vincent, Mohammed Harizi also claimed that Taylor was overheard telling Saif “you are not guilty” and was found to be in possession of GPS coordinates written by Ismail.
The authenticity of this claim has not been verified and it is also not clear to what location the alleged coordinates referred.
Prior to the revolution, Mohammed Ismail was one of Saif Qaddafi’s closest aides and a man known to have wielded considerable influence within the Qaddafi regime. Harizi has said that “it’s this man the Libyan government really wants”, and he believes Taylor knows where he is.
“She had papers from him”, Harizi said. “That means she saw him anywhere, I don’t know where. She saw him anywhere.
“We don’t have anything against this woman. We just we need some information from her. After that she will be free.”
Taylor is part of a four-person legal team appointed by the ICC to defend Saif Qaddafi. All four were arrested following Taylor’s meeting with Saif last Thursday.
Prior to the meeting, it is understood that the Zintan militia holding Saif insisted that an “old man” also be present in the room, a condition to which Taylor allegedly agreed.
What Taylor did not realise, according to Harizi, is that the old man understood English perfectly.
The arrest of Taylor and her companions has sparked international condemnation from a number of senior figures. Last Saturday, the president of the ICC, Sang-Hyun Song called on the Libyan authorities “to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them”.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also called on the Libyan government to “expedite the end of Ms Taylor’s detention”. Taylor is an Australian national.
As representatives of the ICC, all four of the detained legal team have diplomatic immunity, which is intended to shield them from arrest or prosecution under a host country’s laws.
The team is currently being held in a prison in Zintan, and will be detained for 45 days whilst investigations are carried out, according Ajami al-Atiri, commander of the Zintan brigade.
Australian lawyer ‘free if she reveals Libya’s most wanted man’
An Australian lawyer being held in Libya will be released if she reveals the whereabouts of the country’s most wanted man, a key player in the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi, a report said on Tuesday.
Melinda Taylor was detained in Libya late last week after she met with Saif al-Islam, the detained son of the slain Gaddafi, as part of a four-person team from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Libyan officials have alleged that Taylor was carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Saif a coded letter from his former right-hand man Mohammed Ismail, who is on the run.
Libyan government spokesman Mohammed Al-Hareizi told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Taylor would be freed if she gave them information on Ismail.
“We want this guy. It is very important to catch this guy because this guy is very, very, very danger(ous) for us,” he said.
Al-Hareizi claimed Taylor had met with Ismail given that she had a letter from him. “That means she (had met) him (somewhere), I don’t know where,” he said.
Asked whether the 36-year-old Australian would be released if she revealed where Ismail was, he replied: “Yes. Yes.”
“We don’t have anything against this woman. Just we need some information from her, after that she will be free,” he added.
The ABC said that Taylor had interviewed Saif while an observer was present and apparently did not know that the observer was able to understand English perfectly.
“She said very bad words about us and she spoke with Saif, she (told) him: ‘You are not guilty’,” Al-Hareizi said.
Al-Hareizi insisted that Taylor was “in safe hands” but Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he was concerned at reports that the four members of the ICC team had been moved from house arrest to an unidentified prison.
A judicial source in Libya said on Monday the four had been placed in “preventive” detention in prison in the village of Zintan for 45 days while officials investigated the alleged threat to national security.
Australia, which has called for Taylor and her colleagues to be released, said it was essential that Libya grant immediate consular access to the four, but Carr said it was unclear who was holding the ICC team.
“We’ve got very limited access to the information that we would want,” Carr told Sky News.
“It’s very likely that Libya’s National Transitional Council has limited authority in Zintan.”
Carr said when he had spoken to Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz two days ago the Libyan had undertaken to see that Taylor could telephone her husband in The Hague.
“When I last checked, that hadn’t happened,” Carr said. “Again this would point to limited authority by the central authorities when it comes to what’s happening in Zintan.”
The ICC team was in Libya to help Saif choose a defence lawyer. The Hague-based ICC wants to try Saif, 39, for crimes against humanity.