The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] said Saturday that four ICC staff members have been detained in Libya [press release] since Thursday. They traveled to Libya Wednesday 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]. Reportedly among the detainees are 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 news archive] began, and posed a threat to Libyan safety. ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, called for their immediate release:
We are very concerned about the safety of our staff in the absence of any contact with them. These four international civil servants have immunity when on an official ICC mission. I call on the Libyan authorities to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them.The ICC is currently in communication with Libyan authorities.
Last week 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 [official website] 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].