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ICC lawyer free if she reveals Libyan outlaw

12 June 2012, 07:32

 Sydney - An Australian lawyer being held in Libya will be released if she reveals the whereabouts of the country's most wanted man, a key player in the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi, a report said on Tuesday.

Melinda Taylor was detained in Libya late last week after she met with Saif al-Islam, the detained son of the slain Gaddafi, as part of a four-person team from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Libyan officials have alleged that Taylor was carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Saif a coded letter from his former right-hand man Mohammed Ismail, who is on the run.

Libyan government spokesperson Mohammed Al-Hareizi told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Taylor would be freed if she gave them information on Ismail.

"We want this guy. It is very important to catch this guy because this guy is very, very, very danger[ous] for us," he said.

Al-Hareizi claimed Taylor had met with Ismail given that she had a letter from him. "That means she [had met] him [somewhere], I don't know where," he said.

Asked whether the 36-year-old Australian would be released if she revealed where Ismail was, he replied: "Yes. Yes."

"We don't have anything against this woman. Just we need some information from her, after that she will be free," he added.

Preventive detention

The ABC said that Taylor had interviewed Saif while an observer was present and apparently did not know that the observer was able to understand English perfectly.

"She said very bad words about us and she spoke with Saif, she tell him: 'You are not guilty'," Al-Hareizi said.

Al-Hareizi insisted that Taylor was "in safe hands" but Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he was concerned at reports that the four members of the ICC team had been moved from house arrest to an unidentified prison.

A judicial source in Libya said on Monday the four had been placed in "preventive" detention in prison for 45 days while officials investigated the alleged threat to national security.

Australia, which has called for Taylor and her colleagues to be released, said it was essential that Libya grant immediate consular access to the four.

"The Australian government is very concerned that Ms Taylor has reportedly been moved, and has so far not been permitted [to] contact with either a representative of the Australian government, the ICC or her family," Carr said.

The ICC team was in Libya to help Saif choose a defence lawyer. The Hague-based ICC wants to try Saif, 39, for crimes against humanity.



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