Tripoli, 6 July:
Melinda Taylor, the recently-freed International Criminal Court (ICC) defence lawyer for Saif Qaddafi, has said a fair trial in . . .[restrict]Libya for the second son of the deposed dictator is “impossible.”
In a controlled manner, at a press conference in the Hague today, Taylor gave a brief outline of the circumstances of her 26-day detainment and how it violated the ICC’s rules. She also explained how the rights of her client Saif were “irrevocably prejudiced” during her visit to Zintan. Saif is facing charges of crimes against humanity.
The Australian lawyer described how: “the Libyan authorities deliberately misled the defence concerning whether the visit to Saif would be monitored” and “seized documents that were protected by legal professional privilege and ICC protective orders.”
Taylor continued: “It is the position of the defence that these recent events have completely underscored that it would be impossible for Saif to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts.
“The defence intends to place these matters before the ICC pre-trial chamber in the defence response to Libya’s request to have these proceedings in Libya.”
She added that this would be filed on 11 July.
Taylor and three colleagues including Lebanese interpreter Helene Assaf, were detained on 7 June. Taylor was accused of attempting to pass coded documents to Saif, and Assaf was said to have been found in possession of a “spy camera.”
Despite the ICC team’s diplomatic immunity, all four were held for 26 days upon the instructions of the Libyan prosecutor-general’s office.
Taylor said: “They treated us with respect and dignity and were very attentive to our requirements.” However, she continued: “We were never provided with order or decision concerning the legal basis for our arrest and detention or for the search and seizure of privileged and confidential ICC documents.”
The lawyer refused to take questions or go into details about either her detainment or her client’s case because both are part of an ongoing ICC investigation. Much of the rest of Taylor’s seven-minute statement was spent thanking her family, the ICC, Australian ministers and the Australian public for their “tremendous” support.
There will be a final ruling on the accusation against the ICC team on 23 July in Tripoli. The court may require Taylor and Assaf to return for this, though sources in the Hague suggest that the ICC is unlikely to sanction this. [/restrict]