ICC, Australia officials visit detained ICC staff in Libya

[JURIST] Three officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] and the Australian ambassador to Libya were able to visit [press release] and assess the condition of the four detained ICC staff members on Tuesday, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs [official website] reported. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Wednesday that the prison conditions were "adequate" and that Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer, and the other detainees were apparently unharmed. Carr called for the release of and the other staff members: "Australia's position is for Melinda Taylor to be released immediately. As a representative of the ICC, Ms Taylor and her colleagues were doing the important work of the court and are entitled to immunity." A judicial source in Libya told reporters Monday that the four will remain in "preventative" detention [JURIST report] for 45 days while an investigation is conducted. The four detainees traveled to Libya last week to meet with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] and were detained on Thursday [JURIST report]. A representative for the Libyan courts said that Taylor allegedly attempted to give documents to Saif al-Islam that were from his former aid, Mohammed Ismail, who has been in hiding since the Libyan conflict [JURIST backgrounder] began. ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, called for their immediate release.

Earlier this month, a pre-trial chamber of the ICC granted a request by the Libyan government to postpone an order to transfer [JURIST report] Saif al-Islam to ICC custody. The issue of which court is going to try Saif al-Islam has been in dispute since he was captured [JURIST report] by Libyan rebel forces in November. In April ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] stated that the maximum penalty for Saif al-Islam in the ICC would be life in prison, but if convicted in a national court he could face the death penalty [JURIST report]. Earlier that month Ocampo asked the ICC to report Libya to the UN Security Council for failing to turn over Saif al-Islam. Libya expressly denied [JURIST report] the ICC's request for such action and stated that Saif al-Islam will face trial within the country. In February 2011, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to refer the matter in Libya to the ICC prosecutor [JURIST report]. The ICC claimed jurisdiction over Saif al-Islam despite its announcement in November that it may allow Libya to conduct the trial [JURIST report].

 

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