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Libya: Public Prosecution Detains ICC Defense Team for 45 Days

(June 14, 2012) On June 11, 2012, Libyan prosecutorial authorities detained the defense team assigned by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to defend Saif al Islam, the son of former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The ICC defense team was on an official mission to meet Saif al Islam to discuss matters related to the ICC's proceedings against him. (The ICC Team Is Detained in Libya [in Arabic], AL JAZEERA (June 11, 2012).)

The Libyan General Prosecutor, Abd al Aziz al Hassadi, accused the ICC defense team of spying, possessing illegal drugs, and committing crimes threatening the state's security. The authorities alleged that Saif al Islam's personal attorney conveyed coded messages to her client. These messages were supposedly sent by Saif al Islam's former assistant, Mohammed Ismail. Ismail has been on Libya's “most wanted” list since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Libyan authorities announced that the ICC defense team will be released if they provide information about the whereabouts of Ismail. (Id.)

The ICC protested the prosecutor's action and stated that such detention is illegal because the team has diplomatic immunity under article 18 of the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. (Id.; Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, July 17, 1998, UNITED NATIONS TREATY COLLECTION.)