ZINTAN, LIBYA (BNO NEWS) — Authorities in northwestern Libya have detained four members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) who had traveled there to meet Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan leader, court officials confirmed on Saturday.
ICC President Sang-Hyun Song said the four staff members were detained on Thursday when they traveled to the city of Zintan, where Saif Al-Islam is being held. “We are very concerned about the safety of our staff in the absence of any contact with them,” he said. “These four international civil servants have immunity when on an official ICC mission.”
Among those detained is believed to be Australian ICC lawyer Melinda Taylor who has been appointed to represent Saif Al-Islam, who was captured in November 2011 following a months-long civil war and has been indicted by the UN-backed court for crimes against humanity. Libyan authorities have so far refused to hand over Saif Al-Islam to face trial in the Netherlands, the seat of the ICC.
Members of the brigade holding Saif Al-Islam accused the ICC staff of attempting to pass on ‘dangerous documents’ to him, including a letter from a former confidante of his who is now on the run in Egypt, according to the BBC. The broadcaster said it was shown the documents from a distance, but reporters were not allowed to read them.
“I call on the Libyan authorities to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them,” the ICC president said. He said the court’s delegation also included members who wanted to talk with Saif Al-Islam to discuss his option of appointing counsel of his own choosing.
Saif Al-Islam’s father, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was captured on October 20, 2011, by fighters supporting Libya’s transitional government as he tried to flee his hometown Sirte. He was eventually shot dead but it remains unclear whether he was executed by his captors or if he was killed during fighting between pro-Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces.
It is believed more than 25,000 people have been killed during last year’s civil war.