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

  • Good morning. We'll take appearances first, please.

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, opposing counsel. This morning for the Prosecution, Mohamed A Bangura, Kathryn Howarth, Maja Dimitrova and myself Brenda J Hollis.

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused not present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence this morning, Silas Chekera, Logan Hambrick and myself Terry Munyard.

  • Mr Munyard, I do not see Mr Taylor in court.

  • Madam President, there is a practice on Tuesdays that Mr Taylor is not usually here for reasons that are purely administrative that the Court is familiar with and that is the situation this morning. However, there is a matter I would like to raise with the Court and it is probably best dealt with in private session. It arises from matters that were discussed yesterday in private session.

  • Okay. Then, Madam Court Officer, we will go into a brief private session. I do not know if you wish for the witness to be excused.

  • I think it's probably best that the witness is excused, thank you.

  • Then, Mr Zaymay, I do apologise once again. I'll ask you to excuse yourself briefly, but we will call you back shortly.

  • [In the absence of the witness]

  • [At this point in the proceedings, a portion of the transcript, pages 40728 to 40737, was extracted and sealed under separate cover, as the proceeding was heard in private session]

  • [Open session]

  • Your Honours, we're in open session.

  • Ms Hollis, the Chamber needs to hear from the Prosecution in light of Mr Griffiths's submissions yesterday relating to the likely closure of the Defence case that you are familiar with. You weren't in court yesterday, but we need to hear from you before the Bench takes a decision one way or the other when to have the summer break.

  • Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, the Prosecution's position remains the same and that is the summer break should not be scheduled until the conclusion of the Defence evidence. In that regard, your Honours, we suggest and again request that your Honours exercise your authority and set a date by which the Defence case should be concluded. And we ask that for reasons we have briefed in the past.

    First of all, it is within your authority to do so in the management of the trial. Secondly, as we have argued in the past, the Defence has no burden of proof, so they, we suggest, do not even have the right to have a case the length to equal that of the Prosecution. But let us say that your Honours determine they should be given the same length as the Prosecution for presenting their evidence, the Prosecution began its evidentiary trial on 7 January 2008 and concluded its last witness on 30 January 2009. So some year and three weeks. The Defence began the presentation of its evidence, and I'm excluding opening statement, the presentation of its evidence on 14 July of last year. So if your Honours were to give them the same amount of time as the Prosecution had for its case in chief, then their case should be concluded by about the end of the first week in August.

    Should your Honours determine that it is appropriate to set an end date, which we believe it is, then we believe it should be no longer than the time that was given to the Prosecution. And we suggest that setting an end date at this point has the advantage of early notice to both parties so that adequate preparation and planning for the remainder of the Defence case can begin today. A later notice of an end date would give them less of a notice, less opportunity to plan. It would give both parties and the Trial Chamber the ability to plan for the next phase, whatever that may be, and it would give your Honours the opportunity to set a definite date for the recess. And, again, we suggest that the recess should be at the conclusion of the Defence evidence.

    Now, obviously the date you would set, in our view, would be a, if you will, no-later-than date and the Defence could certainly finish earlier than that. But if on the date your Honours had ordered the Defence were beginning or in the middle of a witness, then of course there is the flexibility to conclude that witness. But we would suggest that giving a date for the end of the Defence case would give certainty; it would give adequate notice for planning the next phase as well as give a date for the summer recess, which we believe should follow the closure of the Defence case. And those would be our additional submissions, Madam President.

  • Thank you. Mr Munyard, do you have anything additional to say in reply?

  • Can I, I hope, assist to this extent: Yesterday Mr Griffiths gave you an estimation of the Defence case concluding around the middle of August. But for practical reasons, one couldn't guarantee that it might not just tip into September. After we left Court yesterday, we then had a very lengthy discussion about the remaining witnesses. We reduced our list of core witnesses considerably and filed the new list of core witnesses. We gave very careful consideration to the estimated length of the whole of the evidence of each witness and we came to the conclusion that we were likely to finish in the middle of August - sorry, by the middle of August, which was a rather more scientific approach to the end date than had hitherto been conducted. I said we filed. I think we're due to file it tomorrow. But, in any event, we agreed yesterday between ourselves a much reduced list of witnesses and, therefore, we are more confident that the estimated time that Mr Griffiths gave you yesterday is correct.

    Now, quite by coincidence it turns out that that's about the same period of time that my learned friend Ms Hollis has just mentioned. She talked about the first week of August. Frankly, the difference between the first and second week of August is negligible in terms of the length of the case. The question therefore arises, if we are right, and I think we can be quite confident, we've erred on the side of caution in coming to the estimates. We've allowed as much time as possible rather than try to be optimistic. If that's right, then we would be sitting for four months without a break during an intensive part of the case, and I don't think that there was any stage during the Prosecution evidence when we sat for four months without a break. And when I say a break, I don't mean a few days out of Court because something else is going on, for example, the plenary. I mean a break when you can just pause for at least a week knowing that you don't have to do anything to recharge your batteries, as it were.

    We're not asking for a lengthy break. It seems to us that if we all work on the assumption that we're looking at a date around the middle of August, then a summer break of some reasonable length between now and then would give everybody an added impetus to finish the case in good time. As I've indicated, we're not asking for a lengthy break but just some gap probably slightly shorter than any of the breaks that occurred during the course of the Prosecution evidence. I don't think I can assist any further, unless there's something specific that your Honours would like me to address.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard. We will deliberate on this outside of the Court of course and return with a decision on when to have the summer break. In the meantime, I think we'll call back the witness and get on with the trial.

  • [In the presence of the witness]

  • For the record, the Defence has indicated that Mr Taylor has voluntarily absented himself and is content for the trial to proceed in his absence until the break when he is able to be present, and therefore the trial will proceed pursuant to Rule 60(B) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

    Mr Witness, good morning. You are going to continue with your evidence this morning and I remind you that you are bound by the oath that you took initially to tell the truth.