More Information About Taylor’s Detention

by Kevin Jon Heller

An excellent new report by the Guardian contains a number of interesting tidbits.  To begin with, the report confirms that Taylor — like her erstwhile client — is being held by the Zintan rebels, not by the Libyan government, and that the relationship between the two is strained:

Even if the NTC decides to release Melinda Taylor, it will face the problem of persuading Zintan’s powerful militia to hand her over – with relations frosty between the mountain town and central government. Zintan emerged from last year’s revolution with one of Libya’s most powerful armies and the tranquillity of the town contrasts with the sporadic gun battles that still rock the capital.

Taylor’s previous visit to the town to see Saif, in March, was at first blocked by Zintan’s militia, who said they had not been paid their salaries, international criminal court documents record. In April, Zintan went back on an agreement with the government to hand Saif over to Tripoli, where a specially modified prison has been built for him in the suburb of Tajoura.

The report also provides additional detail concerning the allegations against Taylor:

Officials in Tripoli insist the equipment found on the ICC delegation is for spying. It includes a tiny video camera hidden in the pen. They also suggest that Taylor concealed the “coded” non-ICC documents down her back. As well as the Ismail letter, Taylor is accused of smuggling in a mysterious list of numbers and three otherwise blank sheets of paper bearing Saif’s signature.

I suppose anything is possible, but I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that Taylor was smuggling documents down her back.  Such an action makes no sense, given Taylor’s (justified) expectation that any communications between her and Saif would be completely confidential.

Finally, the report says that, despite its public intransigence, Libya may in fact be working to release Taylor:

Behind the scenes, however, it appears the country’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is looking for a way out. The letter says Keib has held three top-level government meetings to discuss the case and is now seeking a “road map” to solve it.

Let’s hope.

6 Responses

  1. Going back to our previous discussion regarding complementarity, if there is really such little control over the Zintan rebels by the NTC, then there’s an interesting argument that the Libyan government is not able to prosecute Saif because they do not have custody of him. 

  2. Jens,

    I completely agree.  But what is ironic is that the OTP is unlikely to raise the argument with the PTC, because it supports — or at least did under LMO — Libya’s admissibility challenge.  It will be up to the OPCD to argue that Libya is unable to prosecute.

  3. Thanks for keeping her name in the public sphere.  We need to think and do something about her everyday.

  4. From my point of view, one of the most disturbing of the litany of breaches of international law we see here – and the one with the greatest immediate influence on Taylor – is that she has been denied consular access. Has anyone from the Australian government or the ICC seen her since her arrest? Can anyone verify her whereabouts? Her health? The conditions of her incarceration?

  5. Cameron: Check Kevin’s earlier posts, our Foreign (to all of us, as this seems to be the first thing he’s done since he got the job) Minister, and there have been negotiations going on in between the ICC and Libyan officials in The Hague.
    AS stated above, the hardest part is that fact that she is being held by rebel command, who are having their own problems with the new Libyan Govt.  So as per usual, it’s all sitting, frustratingly, politically intertwined…

  6. That was meant to say: Our Foreign Minister has (still is?) in Libya trying to sort out the situation.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. There are no trackbacks or pingbacks associated with this post at this time.