by Julian Borger on 10 Jul 2012 | Comments
Melinda Taylor says her detention in Libya was unjustified and showed her client would not be tried impartially in the country
Melinda Taylor, an international criminal court defence lawyer detained in Libya for more than three weeks has said she had done nothing to justify her detention and argued the incident showed that her client, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, could not get a fair trial in the country.
Taylor and three other ICC employees had been held in the mountain town of Zintan after the Libyan authorities accused her of passing coded documents to Saif al-Islam from a fugitive accomplice. They also accused the delegation of carrying a hidden recording device and camera.
The Australian lawyer, speaking on Friday for the first time since returning to the ICC headquarters in The Hague, did not go into the details of the charges, noting that the court had promised the Libyans a formal investigation and that the defence team had “serious concerns for its ongoing security”. But she proclaimed her innocence.
“I would like to unequivocally state that I believe that my actions were consistent with my legal obligations under the ICC statute and rules and code of professional conduct for counsel,” Taylor said in a statement.
She complained that she and her colleagues had been held for 26 days without being told of the reason for their arrest, or for the seizure of “confidential ICC documents”, protected under international law. She said she had told the Libyan authorities she had immunity from arrest, and said they had breached their undertaking that the defence visit to Saif al-Islam at his place of detention in Zintan would be protected under ICC privileges.
“Amongst other things, the Libyan authorities deliberately mislead the defence concerning whether the visit with Mr Gaddafi would be monitored, and seized documents which were covered by legal professional privilege and ICC protective orders,” Taylor said. “It is the position of the defence that these recent events have completely underscored that it will be impossible for Mr Gaddafi to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts.”
The new government in Libya and the ICC are in dispute over where Saif al-Islam should be tried for alleged crimes carried out in the suppression of the Libyan revolt last year that toppled his father. The ICC is calling for him to be transferred to The Hague on the grounds that conditions in Libya would not allow for a fair trial. The issue is due to be examined in the ICC’s pre-trial chamber next Wednesday and Taylor said she would submit her delegation’s experience as evidence at the hearing.
Source: The Guardian (UK)