Freed ICC staff arrive in the Netherlands
Militia based in town of Zintan frees four staff members of international court of justice after almost a month.
Four “workers” from the International Criminal Court (ICC), who were detained in Libya after visitingÂ Seif al-Islam, son of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi last month, have arrived in the Netherlands.
“The four ICC staff members, released (Monday) from Libya, has arrived in the Netherlands,” the ICC tweeted on their official site on the social network Twitter.
Just curious: how much did Australian taxpayers shell out for this?
I thought Foreign Minister Bob Carr had inserted himself too much into the negotiations, but he hasÂ helped to secure the release of lawyer Melinda Talyor from Libya:Â Interestingly, Carr isn’t given credit by the ICC.Â
The four, including Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, have been held in Zintan since June 7 after travelling there to help prepare Seif’s defence.
Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and Lebanese-born interpreter Helene Assaf were accused of smuggling documents and hidden recording devices to Seif’s prison cell.
Two male ICC staff who were travelling with Taylor and Assaf stayed with them.
The four were freed on Monday after an apology from the ICC,Â whose president, Sang-Hyun Song, travelled to Zintan for theÂ release after weeks of pressure from the Hague-based court, theÂ UN Security Council, NATO and the Australian government.
“I wish to apologise for the difficulties which arose due toÂ this series of events. In carrying out of its duties (the ICC)
has no intention to compromise the national security of Libya,”Â Song told a news conference in the western town.
Taylor and Assaf emerged after the news conference from aÂ small room where they had been waiting and were taken to anotherÂ area where they ate lunch. They looked tired and were dressed inÂ lack Islamic robes with their hair partially covered, but wereÂ smiling. They did not respond to questions from the Reuters news agency.
Taylor had been sent to Libya to represent Seif al-Islam,Â whom the ICC wants extradited to face charges of war crimes allegedly committed during the NATO-backed revolt that toppledÂ his father last year.
Libya has so far refused to extradite Seif, saying it would prefer to try him in its own courts.
“The agreement was that there would be a continuation of theÂ negotiations with the ICC,” Deputy Foreign Minister MohammedÂ Abdel Aziz told the news conference.
“If the ICC wants to send another team they will have toÂ send one that respects Libyan sovereignty.”
Judicial experts say Seif is unlikely to get a fairÂ trial in Libya, where the arrests of the ICC officials only served to highlight the challenges the interim government facesÂ in imposing its authority on the myriad militias who helpedÂ topple Gaddafi and are now vying for power.
The western mountain town of Zintan is effectively outside central government control.
With Seif in its custody,Â the Zintan brigade gained leverage in dealings with the TripoliÂ government as it tries to negotiate his fate with the ICC.
The arrest of the ICC officials also put the interimÂ government in an awkward position where it was essentiallyÂ negotiating a deal between his captors and the outside world.
Late last month, the ICC expressed regret to LibyanÂ authorities in what seemed to come close to an apology designed to secure the release of its employees.