Tripoli, 11 June:
Australia’s ambassador to Italy, who is also accredited to Libya, is expected to arrive in Tripoli today to demand . . .[restrict]a rapid resolution to the case of detained International Criminal Court lawyer, Australian Melinda Taylor.
Taylor, married mother of two, and three of her colleagues have been held in Zintan by local militiamen, following a visit to Qaddafi that had been authorised by the Libyan prosecutor-general. The 38 year old lawyer is accused of attempting to smuggle documents to and from her client, which “posed a danger to the safety of Libya”.
Despite an angry protest on Saturday from ICC President Sang-Hyun Song that the immunity of Taylor and her companions be respected, because they are on ICC business, there was no sign yesterday from Zintan brigade commander, Ajmi al-Atiri, that he was prepared to let the legal team go. He also appears to have ignored a series of phone calls from NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, requesting the immediate release of the prisoners.
The Australian ambassador, David Ritchie, is expected to deliver a firm message from Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr and the rest of the Australian government. Mahmood Jibril, for seven months interim prime minister during the revolution and now a candidate for the National Assembly, has added his voice to those calling for the release of the ICC Four.
There was growing concern last night that the continued detention of the lawyers was doing immense damage to Libya’s international reputation, far more than the one-day seizure last week of Tripoli airport. One Arab diplomat speculated that the stand-off could last for some time, not least because the Zintan brigade continues to refuse to allow the government to take custody of Qaddafi, whom they captured last November. [/restrict]