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.
To understand the dynamics at work in this case, please read Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi And The “Behind The Scenes” Fight Over His Fate.
The four man ICC legal team detained in Zintan on a visit to Saif Qaddafi has been transferred from house arrest to a prison in the town and will be held for 45 days while investigations into their conduct continue, according to the militia chief who detained them.
The BBC today reported that Zintan Brigade commander, Ajami al-Atiri had told them that Melinda Taylor, an Australian citizen, and her three companions from the International Criminal Court in the Hague, have been moved to a regular jail from the guest house where they had been held since their arrest last Thursday.
The other three members of Taylor’s team have been named by the ICC as Helene Assaf, an ICC translator and interpreter since 2005, Esteban Peralta Losilla, the chief of the Counsel Support Section at the ICC and Alexander Khodakov, a Russian career diplomat, who is the external relations and cooperation senior adviser at the registry of the ICC.
ICC president, Sang-Hyun Song, has insisted the lawyers be released immediately and pointed out that since they were travelling on ICC business, they had immunity from arrest.
Atiri told the BBC that the transfer to a jail had been made on orders from the Attorney General’s office and the Defence Ministry in Tripoli. This sits oddly with an earlier statement from the brigade commander, that even after several ‘phone calls from NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, he had refused to release the lawyers.
This latest development comes as an ICC team arrives in Tripoli along with Australian ambassador to Libya, David Ritchie, who is based in Rome. It was reported that the ICC party was hoping to travel to Zintan today to talk to their detained colleagues.
The 38 year-old Taylor has been appointed by the ICC to assist Saif Qaddafi’s defence, as and when he is extradited to the Hague to face war crimes charges. Libya continues to insist that Qaddafi should be tried here.
Taylor is accused of seeking to exchange documents with Qaddafi which were “a danger to the Libyan state”. According to Atiri, angry citizens have been demonstrating in Zintan demanding that the ICC four be prosecuted.