Four International Criminal Court (ICC) staffers, including Russia’s Alexander Khodakov, have been released from prison in Libya. The ICC's president Sang-Hyun Song has thanked Libya’s government for assistance.
The ICC team spent nearly a month in detention, having been accused of smuggling in documents intended for Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, whom they had visited in jail.
Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and her Lebanese interpreter, Helen Assaf, were the main suspects while Russia’s Khodakov and Spain’s Esteban Peralta Losilla stayed with the women out of solidarity. Alexander Khodakov was free to go at any time but he refused to leave the jail without his colleagues.
The ICC had repeatedly called for the release of its employees as had the other countries whose citizens were arrested in the course of performance of their duties.
Moscow urged Tripoli to free the ICC team as soon as possible without any preconditions in accordance with the 1970 UN resolution which obliges Libya to cooperate with the ICC.
However, Tripoli reiterated the accusations that Taylor had tried to smuggle a coded letter to Saif Gaddafi.
Libya’s Transitional Council spokesman Mohammed al Harizi told the VoR about the release.
"Libya wanted the ICC to apologize for the incident and has now received official apologies. The ICC team was not detained by revolutionary forces but by the government and this was sanctioned by the Prosecutor General who wanted to launch a probe into the incident. Libya explained to the ICC the nature of its staff misconduct and pointed out that their mission was not meant to collect information and transfer it to a third party. Despite this incident, we have no intentions to break ties with the ICC and plan to continue our cooperation."
The ISS couldn’t be reached for comments. Earlier reports said that the mission staff had been arrested by the militant Zintan Brigade which was connected to the Gaddafi execution. On June 12, ambassadors of Russia, Spain, Australia and Lebanon’s charges d'affaires met with the detained at a Zintan military base.
Taylor had been allegedly detained by the militants for smuggling a coded letter from Saif al-Islam's aide Mohammad Ismail, who is now on the wanted list as someone posing threat to Libya’s national security. According to a source, a Libyan government official only agreed to free the detained only in exchange for information about Ismail.
The ICC is seeking Saif’s extradition on charges of crimes against humanity but Tripoli believes that he should face trial at home.