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Libya 'arrests' Australian war crimes court lawyer

9 June 2012 | Libya
Seif, 39, has been in custody in Zintan since his arrest on November 19.  By Imed Lamloum (AFP/File)
Seif, 39, has been in custody in Zintan since his arrest on November 19. By Imed Lamloum (AFP/File)

TRIPOLI (AFP) - Libya has arrested a female Australian lawyer from the International Criminal Court for trying to pass "dangerous" documents to Seif al-Islam, detained son of slain leader Moamer Kadhafi, the ICC's Libyan representative said on Saturday.

"During a visit (to Seif on Friday), the lawyer tried to deliver documents to the accused, documents that have nothing to do with his case and that represent a danger to the security of Libya," Ahmed al-Jehani said.

The lawyer, named as Melinda Taylor, was part of a four-member ICC delegation that received permission from Libya's chief prosecutor to visit Seif in Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, where he is being detained.

Jehani said she is "under house arrest in Zintan, not in prison," and is being questioned by the authorities.

The ICC's spokesman in The Hague could not be reached for comment.

Seif, 39, has been in custody in Zintan since his arrest on November 19 in the wake of the uprising that toppled his father rule after more than 40 years in power.

The ICC wants both Seif and his late father's spymaster, Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity committed while trying to put down last year's bloody revolt.

Jehani did not say what the documents were, except that they had been sent by Mohammed Ismail, Seif's former right-hand man, who has been on the run since the revolt.

Tripoli and the ICC have been at loggerheads since Seif al-Islam's capture over where he should be tried, with Libya arguing it could put him in the dock before a local court.

On May 1, officials asked the court's judges to quash a surrender request and throw out the case.

"Denying the Libyan state and its people the opportunity to carry out national proceedings, in accordance... with Libyan law, would likely mean no state emerging from conflict could ever benefit from the complementary principle," Libya's lawyers said.

That was a reference to the ICC's jurisdiction, which is complementary to that of national courts, enabling it to act only when member states are unable or unwilling to do so.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Seif and Senussi in June 2011, and wants to see them tried in The Hague.

A third warrant for the late Libyan strongman was nullified after Kadhafi was killed by rebel forces on October 20, 2011.

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