The Hague, June 14, 2012 (FH) - A delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday visited their colleagues being held in Zintan (Libya) since last week over allegations one of them had smuggled documents to Muammar Gaddafi's detained son.

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Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and her colleagues were arrested on June 7 by Zintan militiamen after accusations she clandestinely passed Saif al-Islam Gaddafi a coded letter from his former right hand man. Her Lebanese translator Helene Assaf is accused of being her accomplice. Two others - Russian former diplomat Alexander Khodakov and Spaniard lawyer Esteban Peralta Losilla - are with them.

Libyan authorities’ spokesman Nasser al-Manaa declared on Wednesday that Melinda Taylor had “overstepped her mandate (…)exchanging documents that represent a threat to national security”. He added that Libyan judges “will be the ones who will decide, not the government”.

According to the commander of Zintan brigade, Ajmi Al-Atiri, the four ICC civil servants should remain in custody for 45 days.

They were in Zintan to meet Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. They had official visas and should have been granted diplomatic immunity.  

In a written statement, Australian minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr said that ICC workers conditions of detention were “generally adequate” and that Mrs Taylor “appeared to be well and in reasonable spirits given the circumstances”. He added that he was not expecting them to be released anytime soon.

Member of the European Parliament in charge of Human rights Barbara Lochbihler declared that “The arrest of the staff members of the ICC shows exemplarily which problems Libya still faces. The Interim Government shows good will to ensure the rule of law, but is often powerless against the countless rival and heavily armed militias”.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested in Zintan on November 20, 2011.