The International Criminal Court is close to making an apology in the Melinda Taylor case and Libya is eager to release the Australian lawyer and her three colleagues, Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says.
Senator Carr says he now believes the four could be freed within a week and a half or sooner if he is able to "telescope" negotiations between Libyan authorities and the International Court.
Bob Carr says apology to Libya is close
Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australian Lawyer could be released within ten days as her employer prepares to apologise to Libya. Senator Carr says Amnesty International is wrong to oppose the apology.
Melinda Taylor, an Australian defence counsel with the court, has been held in the north-western city of Zintan for the past fortnight after being accused of passing coded messages to her client, Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam.
The Senator plans to insist in talks today that Libyan authorities allow the 36-year-old to phone loved ones in Australia.
“I'm saying to the Libyan government today, enough's enough; it's time to allow telephone contact between Melinda Taylor and her family,” Senator Carr said in an interview with Fairfax Media by phone from the Moroccan capital Rabat.
The Senator has just completed the first trip by an Australian foreign affairs minister to Algeria and is holding talks today in Morocco, though the focus of much of his trip has been on the case of the Australian lawyer under detention in Libya.
He made a six-hour visit to Libya during which he pressed Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib to release Ms Taylor.
As well, the minister spoke with the President of the International Criminal Court, Sang-Hyun Song.
“He was moving towards a form of words that in my view would satisfy the Libyans," Senator Carr said.
"I spoke to the Libyan authorities yesterday and they confirmed their willingness, indeed their eagerness to release the detainees subject to that form of words.”
Senator Carr said the words amounted to an apology.
Yesterday, Amnesty International's head of law and policy, Widney Brown, criticised Senator Carr's suggestion of apologising to Libya.
Ms Brown urged the Australian government “to have a much longer-term view of whether you want to undermine the independence of the international criminal court and create a precedent where governments think well, if we just lock somebody up then we'll get them to back off.”
But Senator Carr said he rejected the assertion.
“It is a deeply ingrained and sincere view … of the serious democrats, the Prime Minister and deputy Foreign Minister and the Foreign Minister of Libya, that there was some breach of trust," he said.
“The core of the problem is inadequate laying down of protocols and procedures before the ICC went into this space; no reflection on Melinda Taylor. Indeed, she was a victim of the failure of her organisation to settle procedures and protocols that were acceptable to the Libyans.”
The Minister said he was confident Melinda Taylor and her colleagues would be released and has even put a timeframe on when it might happen.
“I want to telescope a process that has probably got another week or week and a half left in it, providing both sides move on track. I want to telescope that process and have it happen faster but, both sides have got to be persuaded to do that.”