Melinda Taylor Discusses Her Detention

by Kevin Jon Heller

Not surprisingly, Taylor insists that she did nothing wrong — and that Saif Gaddafi cannot possibly get a fair trial in Libya.  First, regarding the so-called “coded letter,” which has always been the most bizarre Libyan allegation:

AUSTRALIAN lawyer Melinda Taylor says documents considered “coded” by Libyan authorities who jailed her were simply innocent doodles.


After her release on Monday, Ms Taylor went straight back to work, emerging on Friday to declare in the Netherlands that her actions in Libya were consistent with legal obligations under court rules.

Ms Taylor said the papers she had were legal documents and the alleged codes were innocent items, including Gaddafi’s nickname, which could be found by keying it in to an internet search engine.

Second, concerning the Libyan’s blatant breach of attorney-client privilege:

“Irrespective of any issues concerning my own personal conduct, the rights of my client, Mr Seif al-Islam, were irrevocably prejudiced during my visit to Zintan,” she said.

“It is the position of the defence that these recent events have completely underscored that it will be impossible for Mr Gaddafi to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts.”

Ms Taylor said that during her detention, she was never given a decision on the legal basis for her arrest or for the search and seizure of privileged documents.

“Amongst other things, the Libyan authorities deliberately mislead the defence concerning whether the visit with Mr Gaddafi would be monitored,” she said.

She said authorities also “seized documents which were covered by legal professional privilege and ICC protective orders”.

Taylor says she will file a complete written report with the Court by next Wednesday, so I will delay substantive analysis until then.  But her initial report is certainly unsettling.  I don’t know what’s worse, Libya’s willingness to surreptitiously monitor attorney-client meetings or its inability to distinguish doodles from code.

I will be interested to see if Taylor comments on the ICC’s apology for her actions.  The Australian media is already in full-on hagiography mode, publishing articles that explain how Bob Carr swooped in on his white horse and saved Taylor from a life of detention and hard labor.

One Response

  1. “it will be impossible for Mr Gaddafi to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts”
    I was wondering if the ICC under the “complementarity regime” has the authority to take over cases if there are indications (as there are in the present case) that the rights of the accused are not ensured, or if the “complementarity” is blind to human rights issues as long as the State is willing and able to prosecute. I’m not quite sure if this issue had not been already discussed elsewhere, but I would be interested in your point of view.

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