Date: June 11 2012
Foreign Minister Bob Carr will step up pressure on the Libyan government to release Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor from detention, as concerns for her safety mount.
Ms Taylor was arrested on Thursday while representing the defence for slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam.
She remains in detention in Zintan, Libya. She is one of four International Criminal Court staff being held in the country.
Libyan authorities say she was trying to pass documents on to Seif.
Senator Carr has called on Libya to guarantee Ms Taylor's security and work toward her immediate release. ''I have asked our Ambassador [David Ritchie] to travel at once to Libya to assist Ms Taylor,'' Senator Carr said.
He said Libyan authorities should ''provide every assistance in securing her release''.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has contacted the Libyan ambassador to Australia to support the lawyer's release as consular officials in Libya continue to try to gain access.
Consular staff have also been in touch with Ms Taylor's family.
The International Criminal Court president, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, had expressed concerns about Ms Taylor's safety and that of her colleagues, Senator Carr said.
''I share those concerns, particularly as there has been no contact by consular staff.
''This was an authorised visit to Libya by an independent legal team, ahead of international court proceedings,'' Senator Carr said. A spokesman for DFAT said Australian consular officials were seeking clarification from the Libyan government on the circumstances of her detention.
Judge Song called for the immediate release of the four staff.
''We are very concerned about the safety of our staff in the absence of any contact with them,'' he said.
''I call on the Libyan authorities to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them.''
He said the four international civil servants have immunity when on an official ICC mission.
It's believed Ms Taylor is under house arrest and is being questioned by authorities.
Gaddafi, 39, is at the centre of a wrangle between the international court and the new government in Tripoli.
The ICC wants to try both Gaddafi and his late father's spymaster, Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity committed while trying to put down last year's bloody revolt.
But the new regime in Libya wants to put Gaddafi on trial in a local court. Under international law, a country has the first right to try suspects for crimes committed on its own soil. AAP/AFP
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.
[ Canberra Times | Text-only index]