Libya: Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr pleads for lawyer's release in Tripoli


Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr prepare to address the press after a meeting at Suu Kyi's house in Yangon on June 6, 2012. Carr is in Myanmar for a three day visit.


Ye Aung Thu

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he believed an apology to Libya from the International Criminal Court over the activities of a legal team advising the son of deposed dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi would secure their release from custody.   

Carr, who today traveled to Libya in his quest to secure the release of an ICC delegation, which includes Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, also suggested that the ICC take more time to negotiate "protocols and procedures with the Libyans before they allowed their people to go in."

Taylor and her colleagues were last week placed in "preventive detention" for 45 days while Libya investigated alleged threats to its national security after they allegedly passed "dangerous" documents on to Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi. 

According to Agence France-Presse, Libyan officials also alleged that Taylor was carrying a pen camera and that the documents included a "coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail," who is on the run.

The ICC said the team was helping Gaddafi choose a defence lawyer

Meanwhile, Carr said Taylor had been inadvertently caught up in a dispute between the ICC, which wants to try Gaddafi, 39, in The Hague for crimes against humanity, and Tripoli which insists he should be tried locally.

Carr said after Taylor was detained June 7 that: "This was an authorized visit to Libya by an independent legal team, ahead of international court proceedings."

Carr has been pushing for greater consular access to Taylor, and for her to have contact with relatives.

"We'd like [Ambassador] David Ritchie to be able to to see Melinda Taylor more regularly. We'd like her to be able to phone her husband Geoff in The Hague... and her parents, John and Janelle, in Brisbane," he said.

However, Carr told ABC Radio

"Melinda Taylor was here working for a respected international organisation — the International Criminal Court — that work attracts immunity. That role ought to be respected," he said.

After his meetings with interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib and the country's deputy foreign minister, Carr told ABC News Breakfast today that he believed an apology from the ICC will secure Taylor's release, while doing no harm to the court's authority.

"It's certainly true that the Libyan authorities, not just the people in Zintan [where Ms Taylor is being held], formed the view that something wrong was done, that there had been a breach of trust," he said.

"I believe the ICC would have been protecting its employees, Melinda Taylor included, better, if they had negotiated protocols and procedures with the Libyans before they allowed their people to go in."

Ahead of his arrival in Tripoli, Carr had said on Twitter that he only had ''modest expectations'' for his mission.

In a later tweet, after meeting with Kib, and he indicated that some concessions had been made by the Libyan authorities, and that the .

According to the Fairfax media, Australia's ambassador-designate to Libya, David Ritchie, met with Taylor for 90 minutes last week.

The meeting included an ICC delegation and ambassadors representing the three other ICC officials detained with Taylor.

More from GlobalPost: Australia demands that Libya release ICC lawyer representing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi