ICC renews call to release staff members detained in Libya

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] said Tuesday that the Libyan government has failed to explain why four ICC staff members are being detained, and their continued detention is a violation of international law. 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]. Reportedly among the detainees is Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer working for the ICC. A representative for the Libyan courts said that Taylor 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, claiming they have immunity when traveling for ICC business. The ICC has had no contact with the detainees since their arrest last week.

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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