Libya authorities interrogating ICC detainees

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the Libyan government told reporters this week that the government has begun interrogations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] staff members detained in Libya. The Libyan government maintains that they have evidence some of the ICC staff may have broken the law [UPI report]. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr [official website] visited Libya [press release] on Monday to discuss the situation with Prime Minister El-Keib and Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz. After the meeting, Senator Carr suggested that the ICC apologize to Libyan authorities for "inadequate consultation on protocol and procedures." Among the detainees is Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer working for the ICC. A representative for the Libyan courts said that Taylor and her colleagues attempted to smuggle documents [Radio Australia report] to Muammar Gaddafi's [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] son Saif al-Islam from his former aide. The issue of which court is going to try al-Islam has been a point of contention between Libya and the ICC since he was captured [JURIST report] by Libyan rebel forces in November. Libyan authorities have reportedly refused to release [NYT report] Taylor, but have given two of the other three detainees permission to leave. The two freed staff members have allegedly chosen to stay in support of their fellow ICC employees. A judicial source in Libya has said authorities may continue to detain the ICC staff for up to 45 days [JURIST report].

The UN Security Council on Monday demanded the release of the detainees [JURIST report]. The Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia last week joined the ICC in calling for the immediate release [JURIST report] of the four staff members. Last week, Carr reported that three officials from the ICC and the Australian ambassador to Libya were able to visit [JURIST report] and assess the condition of the four ICC staff members. A spokesperson for the ICC said earlier that day that the Libyan government had failed to explain [JURIST report] why the four ICC staff members were detained and that their continued detention is a violation of international law. Earlier this month, a pre-trial chamber of the ICC granted a request by the Libyan government to postpone an order to transfer Saif al-Islam to ICC custody, after the Libyan government formally challenged [JURIST reports] the right of the ICC to try Saif al-Islam last month. In April, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the ICC to report Libya to the UN Security Council [JURIST report] 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.

 

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