The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • Good morning. We will take appearances first, please.

  • Good morning, Madam President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel opposite. For the Prosecution this morning, Mr Koumjian, Mr Mohamed A Bangura, Ms Maja Dimitrova and myself Ms Kathryn Howarth.

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused not present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.35 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence today, myself Courtenay Griffiths, with me Mr Silas Chekera, Mr Terry Munyard and Ms Logan Hambrick of counsel.

    {Redacted}

    Before I continue, could I ask that we deal with this matter in private session.

  • And perhaps the comments by counsel could be redacted. The first few comments relating to Mr Taylor should be redacted, and we'll go into private session for the privacy of the accused person, please.

  • Mr Griffiths, would you have the witness excused for a moment, or not?

  • Yes, I think it would be wise for the witness to step outside.

  • [At this point in the proceedings, a portion of the transcript, pages 40716 to 40720, was extracted and sealed under separate cover, as the proceeding was heard in private session.]

  • [Open session]

  • Your Honour, we are in open session.

  • The Defence counsel has requested the Court to adjourn for the reason that Mr Taylor is unable to attend court today and would like to be present in court today but is simply unable. We have heard the reasons in private session and we are satisfied that it's a reasonable request to adjourn the proceedings today until tomorrow morning when Mr Taylor is able to attend court. So we will adjourn court for the rest of today and reconvene tomorrow at 9.30 in the morning.

    Mr Griffiths, this is on a slightly different matter. Are we done with the request for adjournment?

  • We are done with that. I was going to deal with another matter which I anticipate may be troubling your Honours, which is the question of the timeline for the Defence case.

  • The position is this, your Honours: That our most optimistic view of the duration of the Defence case is that it will conclude sometime in August, but we cannot rule out the pessimistic possibility that we may run into September.

    Now, that raises another issue, which is the question of whether or not the Court ought to be planning now for a summer recess. And I raise that matter for this reason: If that most pessimistic prediction is correct, it will mean that by September we will have sat continuously and intensively for some five months. And it is a fact that this case is beginning to take its toll on many of us physically and, in our view, the Court ought realistically to factor in a summer recess, we would submit sometime perhaps in mid-July.

    Now, the other reason why in our submission the Court should be thinking along these lines is this: We don't know whether or not the Prosecution will be applying to call rebuttal evidence or indeed, if they do choose to do so, the duration of that evidence. And in our submission, that possibility ought to be factored in to any considerations as to the future timetabling of the case. We would submit that that very real possibility provides an even more powerful reason why the Court ought to be considering a summer recess at some stage.

    I don't know if there is any particular matters with which I could assist at this point.

  • Yes, Mr Griffiths, before you sit, we have been wondering actually. I know that the Defence investigations have been ongoing and that you have been revising your witness lists, et cetera. Perhaps I am just urging you to really consider the absolutely necessary number, minimum number of witnesses, having in view the fact that the onus of proof lies on the Prosecution and not the Defence. This is a very, very vital factor in the timeline. You could go through as a Defence team again through your witness list just to ensure that there are no duplications and that these are absolutely necessary witnesses in the circumstances.

  • Madam President, I can assure you that were it left purely to the lawyers, there would be a minimum of witnesses called. But your Honours have to appreciate we act on instructions and we have the situation as to Defence witnesses continuously under review. And I can assure you that my concern is to put the Defence case within as short and as narrow compass as possible, subject of course to any instructions I receive.

  • I guess I am being rather Delphic but your Honour can understand why.

  • Yes, but also, if I may remind you, the Chamber does have powers to ask you to show cause why you can't call less witnesses. This is a trump card that we keep, we would not like to resort to. But if we think that the trial is being protracted to an inordinate length we have that power, and, indeed, the duty to conduct an efficient and expeditious trial, and I think your client should be reminded of this in all wisdom to trust his lawyers. That should be really the bottom line.

    But I would like to hear the Defence - sorry, the Prosecution, if you are in a position to say - first of all, to comment on the timing of the summer recess, but also on the other comments relating to the timeline, rebuttal evidence, et cetera, if you are able to. I realise that Ms Hollis is not here, but if you are able to, we could hear from you. We are not going to make a decision today. If you need time to consult the team leader, we appreciate that. But if you have anything to say at this moment, it's welcome.

  • I appreciate that flexibility, and I would say that these, then, are preliminary remarks.

    The first is while we understand it's helpful with everyone's planning to know about the summer recess, it's even more helpful for everyone's planning in the whole institution, including hiring, retention, budget, to have an estimate of when the trial will finish. So we would urge the Court to try - that it is an appropriate time to try to come up with a schedule that would be an approximation, an estimate of when this trial would finish.

    I would say the Prosecution is contemplating at the present time - we haven't heard the Defence case; we've only heard part of it - a short rebuttal - application for a short rebuttal - that would be less than a week at the present time - and we just think that at the moment - I think we are still working from a witness list of about 270 witnesses, because the core witness list, apparently, is only a suggestion. Some witnesses are being moved in and out of the core list, so that's an approximation. But we still have a very, very large number of witnesses.

    In my domestic practice, it is ultimately the attorney's responsibility, and not the client, to decide which witnesses are called. Clients enjoy the services of professional, experienced Defence counsel and they have to place their trust - when you decide to be represented by experienced, professional Defence counsel, you have to place your trust in their judgement. That's what their years and years of experience - that's why you are using their services, and we hope that the accused would understand that.

    And these are the preliminary remarks that I have for your Honour, and I would add that I am sure Ms Hollis would have additional and more precise answers to your Honours' questions.

  • So, Mr Koumjian, you couldn't give the Court an indication as to what your preferences for the summer recess would be?

  • That I really don't know, other than our preference was to finish, as your Honours said earlier, the Defence case before the summer recess.

  • Perhaps we will hear from the Prosecution tomorrow morning on this issue before we finally take a decision, in which case we will adjourn as previously indicated. I do not think it's --

  • Madam President, can I mention two things: Firstly, we still have a witness who is anticipating giving evidence, so he will have to be discharged for the day; secondly, can I mention, out of courtesy, that I will not be here tomorrow. Mr Munyard will undoubtedly deal with any matters arising from the matters discussed this morning.

  • Madam Court Officer, if we could have the witness brought back, please.

  • [In the presence of the witness]

  • Mr Zaymay, the Court has decided to adjourn for the rest of today, the reason being that Mr Taylor, who should be here in court, is unable to be in court today, but hopefully will be in court tomorrow morning.

    So I would like to officially inform you that you are not to discuss your evidence, as I normally caution you, and you will return tomorrow morning for the rest of your testimony, hopefully.

    Thank you. Court is adjourned.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 10.03 a.m. to be reconvened on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 at 9.30 a.m.]