Libyan leader Seif al-Islam Gaddafi was captured in the south of the country. Seif is the heir apparent to Muammar Gaddafi, the martyred leader of this North African oil-rich state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ICC going easy on Libya, says Melinda Taylor
by: PETER WILSON
December 15, 201212:00AM
AUSTRALIAN barrister Melinda Taylor has co-authored a blistering attack on judges of the International Criminal Court over their failure to criticise Libya for arresting her and three other ICC employees.
Ms Taylor says the judges' silence over the past six months has given Libya a "green light" to break the law again.
Ms Taylor and fellow defence lawyer Xavier-Jean Keita have accused the ICC judges of "creating the impression" that the court had been pressured into a "behind-the-scenes deal to bargain away" the rights of their client, Saif Gaddafi, the son of the former leader Muammar.
"Through its ongoing silence concerning fundamental violations of the rights of the defence, the chamber has failed to accord Mr Gaddafi the protection of the law," the defence team wrote in a submission to the judges.
"The fact that there have been no consequences for Libya's failure to bring Mr Gaddafi before a judge (or) to surrender him to the ICC when required to do so, or as concerns the fact that the Libyan authorities effectively took four ICC officials hostage, appears to have given Libya the green light to replicate these violations."
The unusually sharp criticism came amid continued wrangling over Mr Gaddafi's fate, six months after Ms Taylor and her colleagues were detained for 26 days in the desert town of Zintan.
In an interview published in The Weekend Australian Magazine today, the Brisbane-born lawyer says officials and lawyers of the post-Gaddafi regime played the leading role in her arrest.
The Libyan government still insists that Ms Taylor was arrested for passing documents that "threatened Libyan national security" to Mr Gaddafi, who remains in prison in Zintan and is charged with crimes against humanity while trying to suppress last year's counter-revolution.
The defence team is fighting to have Mr Gaddafi tried in The Hague, where there is no death penalty, but Tripoli wants to hold its own trial and is trying to have Ms Taylor removed from the case. She has taken the most active role in the defence team and is likely to have written most of its submission, which came after the judges rejected a Libyan bid to have the defence team dropped.
The judges added in their ruling that it was "intrinsically problematic" for the defence team to represent Mr Gaddafi in the tussle over where the case should be held because the involvement of the ICC-employed defence team instead of outside lawyers could undermine the court's appearance of impartiality.
That prompted the submission by the defence team, which argued that the judges were signalling an intention to remove them soon and appoint a new team.
"To say nothing in the face of (Libya's) repeated and flagrant violations of the rights of the defence is not to be impartial -- it is to derogate from the duties of the chamber," they wrote. "The defence was arrested on trumped-up charges in order to silence both the defence and the defendant . . .
"The chamber risks creating an appearance that it has become complicit in these violations through its acquiescence."
The judges this week rejected the arguments, insisting that their earlier ruling did not amount to a decision to drop the defence team any time soon.