Conflict & Justice

Australia demands that Libya release ICC lawyer representing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi


Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, flashes the V-sign for victory as he appears in front of supporters and journalists in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of August 23, 2011.



Australia has demanded that the Libyan government release a lawyer and Australian national working on the defense team for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the country's former ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Melinda Taylor, a defense International Criminal Court lawyer in Libya ahead of proceedings against Gaddafi, was detained on Thursday for alleged breaches of Libyan national security, according to Australia's ABC News.

Agence France-Presse reported that Taylor was accused of trying to pass "dangerous" documents on to Saif.

And according to Libya's representative to the ICC Ahmed al-Jehani, she was "under house arrest in Zintan" — 110 miles southwest of the Libyan capital — being questioned, and "not in prison."

"During a visit, the lawyer tried to deliver documents to him, letters that represent a danger to the security of Libya," Jehani, who liaises between Tripoli and The Hague-based ICC, reportedly said.

"She is not in jail. She is being detained in a guesthouse. Her colleagues are with her."

An ICC representative confirmed to the ABC that Taylor was part of a four-member delegation given permission to visit Saif on Thursday in Zintan.

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Sunday said the ICC president had expressed concerns about Taylor's safety, the Australian Associated Press reported.

"I share those concerns, particularly as there has been no contact by consular staff," he said.

"This was an authorized visit to Libya by an independent legal team, ahead of international court proceedings."

Carr told AFP that Australian officials did not know why Taylor had been detained, or who was holding her, and attempts to gain access had failed.