Just say you're sorry: ICC must apologize to Libya
The case of Lebanese interpreter Helen Assaf, who was detained in Libya on June 7, could witness a breakthrough soon as international sides are exerting efforts to release her along with 3 other International Criminal Court members.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Tuesday that the International Criminal Court team held in Libya could be freed if the ICC apologizes to Tripoli over "inadequate consultation.”
Carr travelled to Libya on Monday to meet top officials over the case of Australian Melinda Taylor, one of four ICC staff, including Assaf, held in Zintan after meeting Seif al-Islam, the detained son of dead dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The ICC wants to try Seif, 39, for crimes against humanity during his father's rule. Tripoli insists he should be tried locally and filed on May 1 a motion challenging the ICC's jurisdiction to put him on trial in The Hague.
Carr said the ICC staff could be freed by the ICC "issuing a statement which addresses the concerns of Libyan authorities and extends an apology for inadequate consultation on protocol and procedures".
"I'm confident that the Libyan government and even the authorities in Zintan are keen that the four detainees be released," Carr said in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"And I'm quietly confident that with an appropriate form of words from the International Criminal Court, that they will respond sooner rather than later."
Carr said Libyan judicial officials investigating the actions of the four detained staff -- Taylor and colleagues from Lebanon, Russia and Spain, who had been helping Seif choose a defense lawyer -- were close to a conclusion.
But he said there were "extreme sensitivities" in the case, in which Taylor has been accused of carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Seif a coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail, who is on the run.
Australia is happy to be a broker between Libya and the ICC, Carr said after meeting interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib and other senior government officials.
"They recognize they've got to have a dialogue when this affair is settled, and I think Australia could play a role as good global citizen in facilitating it, and both of them are open to that suggestion," he said.
There was "a lot of swirling resentment and hatred focused on Gadhafi in prison" and the ICC could have better protected its staff when it sent them to the country, Carr admitted.
"It's certainly true that the Libyan authorities, not just the people in Zintan, formed the view that something wrong was done, that there had been a breach of trust," Carr said.
"I believe the ICC would have been protecting its employees, Melinda Taylor included, better, if they had negotiated protocols and procedures with the Libyans before they allowed their people to go in."
International pressure has been growing on Libya to release the ICC team, with the United Nations Security Council issuing a statement expressing "serious concern" over their detention.
Seif has been held in Zintan, 180 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, since his arrest on November 19 last year.