by Chris Stephen on 25 Jun 2012 | Comments
Melinda Taylor is being interrogated over claims documents were passed to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, says government spokesman
Libyan prime minister Abdulrahim el-Keib said on Thursday that the international criminal court lawyer detained by security forces was guilty of actions that “compromised national security” and would not be released.
Melinda Taylor, an Australian ICC official, was arrested in the mountain town of Zintan on 7 June after meeting the indicted war crimes suspect Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is being held by the town’s militia.
Keib, speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Tripoli, said: “During the meeting with the defendant [Saif], the defendant Melinda Taylor handed over to the accused some documents and papers which compromise the national security of Libya.
“These documents have nothing to do with the ICC mission. The ICC should guarantee the professional morality and ethics of those sent to Libya.”
Keib’s statement indicates that Taylor can expect a lengthy period of detention, with the Libyan prime minister saying the documents, which he did not specify, constitute “an offence punishable by the Libyan regulations.”
Tripoli said on Wednesday night that Taylor, one of four ICC officers who were on an official visit to Libya, had tried to deliver documents to Saif that were not part of her work for the court.
“An interrogation of them is under way,” said Libyan government spokesman Nassar el-Manee. “There is evidence that proves they have breached the law.”
The decision comes after the Australian foreign minister, Robert Carr, met Keib, earlier this week, announcing a hope that Taylor would be released if the ICC issued an apology.
Manee said such an apology would not prevent a criminal case being launched. “They [the ICC] should say: ‘We have made a mistake,’” said Manee. “When the interrogation is complete we will explain everything.”
Taylor’s three colleagues – a Lebanese translator, Russian diplomat and Spanish legal expert – have been told they are free to leave Zintan but have elected to stay with Taylor.
The arrest of Taylor is spiralling into the most serious crisis in the ICC’s 10-year history. Never before has one of its officials been arrested and held in detention.
The ICC spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah told the Guardian on Thursday that the court was negotiating with the Libyan government, and that Taylor was being held in Zintan incommunicado, with ICC lawyers having been allowed only one visit to her, on 12 June.
“She has immunity like all delegation members,” he said. “Libya has the obligation to fully respect obligations in resolution 1970 by the [UN] security council.”
Carr said earlier this week that Tripoli would be likely to release Taylor if the ICC agreed that Saif could be tried in Libya, rather than The Hague.
But ICC judges can make such a decision only if they are satisfied that Libya, struggling to rebuild a shattered country after last year’s civil war, can guarantee Saif a fair trial with a fully functioning legal system.
Source: The Guardian (UK)