Urgent Action: Viva Libya Saif Al Islam Gaddafi File And Appeal
When The Fate Of ICC Staff Matters More Than Libya’s Innocent Political Prisoners
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi And The “Behind The Scenes” Fight Over His Fate
Melinda Taylor, the Australian lawyer, was released on Monday Photo: EPA
“Irrespective of any issues concerning my own personal conduct, the rights of my client, Mr Saif al-Islam – were irrevocably prejudiced during my visit to Zintan,” said Melinda Taylor.
The Australian lawyer was freed earlier this week after being detained in Libya while visiting Saif, the son of slain former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“It is the position of the defence that these recent events have completely underscored that it will be impossible for Mr Gaddafi to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts,” she said at a press conference in The Hague, two days after her return.
Mrs Taylor and her four colleagues were released on Monday after being held in Zintan southwest of Tripoli since June 7 after travelling there to help prepare Saif’s defence.
Mrs Taylor was accused of carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Saif, 40, a coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail, who is wanted by the Libyan authorities.
The other three detained ICC staffers were Mrs Taylor’s interpreter from Lebanon, Helen Assaf, and two colleagues, Russian Alexander Khodakov and Esteban Peralta Losilla from Spain.
The four were allowed to leave the North African country as part of an agreement between The Hague-based court and the Libyan government, which are disputing where Saif should be tried.
But Mrs Taylor, who declined to answer questions, read a prepared statement Friday saying: “Amongst other things, the Libyan authorities deliberately mislead the defence concerning whether the visit with Mr Gaddafi would be monitored.”
They also “seized documents which were covered by legal professional privilege and ICC protective orders,” she said.
Defence lawyers will give their side of the story to ICC judges in writing no later than next Wednesday, she said.
A beaming Mrs Taylor said it was “wonderful” to be back in The Hague.
She said during her detention the four ICC members were allowed to have one five-minute telephone conversation with their families.
“As you can imagine, speaking to my two-year-old daughter under such circumstances was both an emotional lifeline and heartbreaking,” she said.
Saif has been in custody in Zintan since his arrest on November 19 in the wake of the uprising that toppled his father after more than 40 years in power.
The ICC wants both Saif and Libya’s head of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity allegedly committed while trying to put down last year’s foreign-backed insurrection.
Tripoli and the ICC have been at loggerheads since Saif capture over where he should be tried, with Libya arguing it could put him in the dock before a local court.
On May 1, officials asked the court’s judges to quash a surrender request and throw out the case.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Seif and Senussi in June 2011, and wants to see them tried in The Hague.
A third warrant for the late Libyan strongman was nullified after Gaddafi was killed by rebel forces on October 20, 2011.
Fair trial for Gaddafi’s son in Libya ‘impossible’ – ICC lawyer
International Criminal court Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and her boss Xavier-Jean Keita give a press conference in the Hague, the Netherlands, on July 6, 2012
An independent and impartial trial for Gaddafi`s son Saif al-Islam is “impossible” in Libya, International Criminal Court defense lawyer Melinda Taylor claims. Taylor was freed this week after spending a month behind bars in Libyan Zintan.
In her first public speech since being released, Taylor said her detention shows that Saif al-Islam would not get a fair trial in a Libyan court.
“Amongst other things, the Libyan authorities deliberately mislead the defense concerning whether the visit with Gaddafi would be monitored,” she said.
Taylor also said that the defense intends to place these issues before the ICC Pre-Trial chamber and their report will be filed by July 11th.
The lawyer and three other ICC members were accused of breaching national security after they met with Saif al-Islam. The four were subsequently arrested and held in detention in the northwestern town of Zintan for almost a month.
Libyan authorities claim that ICC members tried to pass an encoded letter to jailed Saif al-Islam.
Taylor, however, claims that her actions in Libya were “consistent” with her legal obligations.
A still image taken from video shows Saif al-Islam Gaddafi speaking during an interview in Zintan (Reuters/Zintan Media Council via Reuters TV)
Immediately after their arrest, she appealed to the Libyan authorities, informing them that if they had any concerns regarding her misconduct, they had the right to file a complaint to the ICC, the lawyer says. She also pointed out that she had full immunity from arrest, detention or any other investigative action and any such measure from Libyan authorities would violate international law.
While in detention, Taylor said, they were treated with “respect and dignity.” They were, however, only allowed one five-minute telephone call with their families.
The ICC members were only released after the court president apologized for the incident and vowed to investigate the case.
Saif al-Islam, who is accused of crimes against humanity in Libya, was arrested last November as he was trying to flee to neighboring Niger.
The ICC has since repeatedly expressed worries over his trial in Libya and asked for his extradition to The Hague.
Political commentator Luke Samuel told RT that the ICC is only reaping what it’s sown, as the institution “was very much a part of the uprising in Libya.”
Samuel said the ICC is often used as a political mechanism in Western interventions. In the case of the Libyan uprising, the ICC immediately issued indictments for Gaddafi and his family, thereby legitimizing the intervention.
“What the ICC effectively did was artificially give this rebellion a sense of unification, an artificial sense of a political purpose, and this in the end proved extremely destabilizing.”
The state’s legal institutions in post-Gaddafi Libya will simply not allow for a fair trial for the deposed leader’s son, political scientist Nabila Ramdani told RT.
“It is very obvious to anybody following the situation in Libya that it is not a country that is able to offer a fair trial to Saif Gaddafi for the very reasons that it does not have the structures to do so,” she said. “And the latest developments involving an ICC lawyer being detained in Libya prove that.”