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Gaddafi son 'can't get fair trial'

Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, cannot get a fair trial in Libya, an International Criminal Court defence lawyer held in Libya for more than three weeks has said.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her release on Monday, Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor denied any wrongdoing in Libya, where authorities accused her of endangering national security while meeting her client, Saif al-Islam.

"I would like to unequivocally state that I believe that my actions were consistent with my legal obligations" under International Criminal Court rules," she said. Ms Taylor was released by rebels in the western town of Zintan after the Hague-based court apologised for the incident and pledged to investigate her and three colleagues held with her.

She declined to discuss the Libyan claims in detail due to the court's investigation and security concerns.

Ms Taylor said Zintan rebels who held her and the three other staff "treated us with respect and dignity," but she attacked Libya for its treatment of the court delegation and her client. "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," she told reporters.

Ms Taylor said she would file a report next week on her detention and visit with Saif al-Islam in a defence submission to ICC judges on Libya's application to be allowed to prosecute him. The Australian said she was allowed only one five-minute phone call with her family during her detention. "As you can imagine, speaking to my two-year-old daughter under such circumstances was both an emotional lifeline and heartbreaking," she said.

Ms Taylor was appointed by the court to represent Saif al-Islam, who is charged with crimes against humanity for alleged involvement in attacks on civilians in the early stages of the popular uprising against his father's four-decade rule.

Saif al-Islim is now the focus of a judicial tug of war between the court and Libyan authorities who want to put him on trial at home for torturing and killing rebels as well as other crimes.

The ICC is a court of last resort - meaning it can only take on cases in countries unwilling or unable to prosecute them. The Security Council called on prosecutors in The Hague to launch an investigation in Libya last year after widespread reports of atrocities committed by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International harshly criticised Libya's detention of the four court staffers.

www.icc-cpi.int/(International Criminal Court)

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