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

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused not present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.42 a.m.]

  • Good morning. We will take appearances, please.

  • Good morning, Mr President, your Honours, opposing counsel. This morning for the Prosecution, Brenda J Hollis, Mohamed A Bangura and we are joined by our case manager Maja Dimitrova.

  • Thank you. Yes, Mr Anyah.

  • Good morning, Mr President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel for the Prosecution. Representing the Defence this morning, Terry Munyard and myself Morris Anyah. Mr President, as your Honours can see, Mr Taylor is not here and I don't know if the Court wished to make a remark about that but we certainly do wish to make a remark about that.

  • We don't know much about why he isn't here. I heard something about transport problems, but what can you tell us, Mr Anyah?

  • Well, I have no further information than you have, Mr President. We usually consult with our client every morning as a matter of practice and we were here before 9 o'clock and Mr Munyard sought to consult with him and when he spoke with the ICC security officer outside the courtroom attempts to reach those who usually bring him to the room adjacent to the courtroom were fruitless, and as we stand now before the Court, we have no information about the whereabouts of our client. As is also evident Mr Griffiths is not here, and we typically would seek the permission or authority of Mr Taylor to proceed, and I am unable to do so. I do have Mr Griffiths's authority to proceed and I am ready to proceed, but I think in the first instance we need to find out where Mr Taylor is.

  • Yes, I agree with that, Mr Anyah.

    Ms Hollis, I don't know whether you wanted to add anything.

  • We have not even the information that your Honours and the Defence have, so we have nothing to add.

  • Thank you. Well, just for the record, it's almost 9.45 now and the accused, Mr Taylor, is not in court. There is very little information as to why that is. All the judges have been told is that there was some transport problems. So we have no option now but to adjourn the Court until such time as we hear something positive about the accused.

    We will adjourn for now.

  • [Break taken at 9.46 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 10.17 a.m.]

  • [The accused present]

  • Well, Mr Anyah, have you heard anything more as to the delay caused to bringing your client to Court this morning?

  • [Upon resuming at 11.26 a.m.]

  • Well, here we are. It's 26 past 11 and we haven't heard one word of evidence today. As everybody knows, we resumed from recess yesterday and we have had problems ever since. We know what happened over the recess was that the Special Court office was moved to the STL and I understand, and I could be wrong, that there are problems with the cable from there. I am also told that there are problems with the Dutch service provider and I am further told that wiring was done over the recess to prepare this Court for hearings under the ICC jurisdiction. I understand there's problems with that wiring.

    But more in tune with the present problems is the Court Manager who has been monitoring the situation today, so I will ask Madam Court Manager if she could bring us up to date on the existing problems as she has been told.

  • Yes, Mr President. I should firstly say that Mr Taylor has authorised us to proceed in the absence of lead counsel, Mr Griffiths.

    We have spoken with Mr Taylor regarding the circumstances why he arrived here out of time, so to speak, and indications are that it implicates the movement of detainees from the ICC detention centre to the Courthouse. Out of some caution, and perhaps respect for the Dutch security services, to go into the amount of detail I wish to it might be necessary to go into a private session, because I might touch upon the timing of movement of detainees and so on. I leave it in your discretion. I am prepared to speak about the matter in public, but in these instances it sometimes is appropriate to do so in private.

  • It's not going to endanger any protected witness, is it?

  • Certainly not. Not in our case, and I could proceed if your Honours so desire.

    What we do know is that several months ago a circumstance arose at the detention centre where the Dutch security services who are responsible for transporting detainees attempted to move both Mr Taylor and another detainee in what could be termed as the same convoy; that is, they would take Mr Taylor down from his cell to a waiting vehicle, have him placed in the vehicle, he would be handcuffed upon being taken downstairs, and his ability to use the telephone would be discontinued, and he would have to sit in the vehicle for sometimes up to half an hour while they would go upstairs and bring a second detainee and place the second detainee in another vehicle and attempt to move both detainees simultaneously to the Courthouse.

    Mr Taylor and the other detainees lodged complaints to the ICC chief of detention. Assurances were given to them that this mode of transportation would no longer be employed because of the discomfort it posed to the detainees being handcuffed in a van and sitting there for thirty minutes while another detainee was brought from his cell to another vehicle.

    This morning the Dutch security services attempted to repeat the same mode of transportation. They took Mr Taylor down. For those not in Holland the temperature is about perhaps 30 degrees Farenheit. They attempted to place him in this vehicle in handcuffs, and he would have had to have sat in the vehicle for at least half an hour in the cold, and Mr Taylor had refused and additional arrangements had to be made.

    Now, the disconcerting part of all of this is that the time at which Mr Taylor was taken downstairs was at about 8.30 this morning. He had no means of communication with counsel. No member of the Registry, as far as I am aware of, were contacted by the security services to indicate that this was the state of affairs, and so even when we were here in Court assembled at about 9.35, we had no idea where our client was. We didn't know if he was on the way here; we just knew there were difficulties occasioned by transportation issues, and so that's very disconcerting to all of us.

    I should make one additional point that is not on the record, but this touches upon Mr Taylor's efforts to be here and present at these proceedings.

    {Redacted}

    Bearing that in mind and asking him at age 61 to sit in a van for thirty minutes in the cold, handcuffed while another detainee is being brought from upstairs, all to get him to the courthouse we find is unacceptable. So I don't think that the delay could in any way be attributed to the conduct of our client.

    Assurances were given by the relevant detention centre personnel. They breached those assurances. After several months of the same practice of transporting the detainees separately to the courthouse, they reinstituted the problematic mode of transportation today and as a consequence we are now at 10.25 past the hour and almost an hour late for the commencement of the court session. In sum and substance that's what we know.

  • Thank you, Mr Anyah. Ms Hollis, I will give you a chance to say something if you want to but I am aware you didn't know any of the circumstances this morning.

  • The Prosecution has nothing to contribute, Mr President.

  • Thank you. Well, it's very concerning to the Court that close on an hour, 55 minutes, has just been completely wasted because the accused, Mr Taylor, has not been produced to the Court. But in fairness to security, we haven't heard their side of it, so we will direct the Acting Registrar through the head of The Hague sub-office to provide a report on exactly what happened this morning and ways to avoid it in the future.

    Now, as for the conduct of the case this morning, we note that Mr Taylor, who is now in court, has given his consent for the case to proceed in the absence of lead counsel, Mr Griffiths. That leads us to the next problem we have and that is with the LiveNote system. The last the judges were told is that it's not just the LiveNote system, but the whole of the Special Court network is down.

    Madam Court Manager, is that still the position?

  • Your Honour, the court network seems to be fluctuating but presently I have been able to connect to LiveNote although it's coming in spurts, but I would be able to probably broadcast my LiveNote if that could be of assistance, although that would mean that I wouldn't be able to use my screen for other purposes such as transcripts, but I would be able to broadcast my LiveNote and if participants were to press PC-1 they would be able to view LiveNote, although right at this moment I need to use it briefly to convey your directive and then I can broadcast it.

  • Thanks, Madam Court Manager. I would appreciate it if you would send that directive to the head of The Hague sub-office and then do I understand that you will be ready to broadcast the transcript from then on or do you need some time?

  • Your Honour, unfortunately my LiveNote also now seeming to be scrambling, so I think we would need to re-look the network problem that we are facing.

  • All right. Thank you, Madam Court Manager.

  • Mr President, if I could just add, I had switched to PC-1 to see if I could get the transcript there and it continues to stop and start and stop and start, so there are obviously problems with that remedy as well, and we can get nothing on our computers either.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis. Well, in view of the technical problems, we are going to adjourn for a brief amount of time and, Madam Court Manager, we would be obliged if you would join us in our room for a few moments, please. We will go off the Bench now. Mr Taylor, yes?

    {Redacted}

    {Redacted}

    We will now order that any reference this morning to Mr Taylor's {redacted} be redacted from the public record. We would also order those members of the public who have heard what was said about {redacted}

    {redacted} not to repeat it in public.

    We will adjourn now.

  • [Break taken at 10.30 a.m.]

  • Your Honour, on behalf of the Registry, the present situation is that we are experiencing problems with the Dutch service provider who are receiving an intermittent signal. As a result LiveNote functions and goes on and off, as well as our drives on the SCSL network because that is also affected by the drives. For these purposes I was able to broadcast for a while my LiveNote but then I also succumbed to the technical problems because of the SCSL network and hence would not be able to effect, for example, redactions in the event that there was one. I think that is the position on behalf of the Registry, your Honour.

  • All right. Well, from what I understand, the stenographer is still available and the proceedings will also be recorded by audio recorder. It will mean of course that we will be proceeding without any written record, we won't be able to refer electronically to any documents and I am not sure how the broadcast to the public is affected. But I will hear from the parties. I know this causes difficulties in presentation of your cases as well.

    Ms Hollis, you are in the process of cross-examining at the moment. How do you find your situation now?

  • Well, the door is firmly locked and bolted against us in terms of access to anything, Mr President. So it would be very difficult for us to proceed. Of course we can attempt it if your Honours wish, but it would cause considerable difficulty for us.

  • I understand. Thank you. Mr Anyah?

  • Our situation is no better, Mr President. My screen, as I look at it, the monitor is frozen essentially. I cannot access the Defence's unique drive on the overall court hard drive and I therefore cannot access any electronic documents, transcripts of prior proceedings and the like. I have called our case manager to see if hard copies or binders could be delivered but I am told that the court's telephone system is having difficulties so she cannot call transport to bring the binders to us and frankly I don't think it would be in the interest of our client for us to attempt to proceed.

  • I understand. Another added problem of course is because the - this is my understanding and again I could be wrong, but because the SCSL system is down, if we all go back to our offices we possibly wouldn't be able to do anything productive there either. I understand telephones are not working and the system is down as well. So it's a totally impossible situation in which to run a trial and, Madam Court Manager, if you would please refer what I am going to say to the Acting Registrar.

    We direct the Acting Registrar as a matter of utmost urgency to look into these technical problems so that we can get on with the trial. I would appreciate an urgent report from the Acting Registrar and some commitments as to being provided with a viable system in which to continue this trial.

    Now, as for today's proceedings, if I can just pause there, I wish to talk to my colleagues.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • On our current position, I understand our senior legal officer was told something by our technicians about 1 o'clock. What was that again?

  • I have talked to the technician and he told me that the company would call him at 1 o'clock and give him an update on the current situation, so at 1 o'clock we would be in a better position to know whether we can proceed today or not.

  • Well, I think in the circumstances, unless either of the parties have any other suggestions, we will write off the rest of this morning and hope that if we come back at 2.30 we might be able to at least salvage half a day of the hearing. So are there any objections to that procedure?

  • None from the Defence, Mr President.

  • Ms Hollis.

  • None from the Prosecution.

  • All right. I consulted the parties obviously because I know the inconvenience this is causing to everybody and I think in the circumstances we will proceed along those lines. We will now adjourn and we will come back at 2.30 in the hope that we can proceed then.

  • [Lunch break taken at 11.34 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • I'm sorry to say that the technical problem that prevented us from proceeding this morning is still with us. The head of The Hague's sub-office has been trying to get some diagnosis and some time frame and he's here now. I'll get him to read on to the record what he's learned from the server company. Mr Townsend.

  • May it please the Trial Chamber. Your Honours, I am here to report that according to our network administrator the modems at both the ICC and at the STL where our seven servers sit are not functioning and our reliance on Colt Company to provide those functioning modems has put us in a position where we're still waiting for a proper diagnosis and once we have that we'll give a proper diagnosis, but we understand it is the hardware, the two modems, that are malfunctioning. As soon as we have that information we'll be in a position to tell you when we'll be up again and we apologise for the failure today.

  • Thank you. I think we're going to have to adjourn until tomorrow morning. The reasons have been abundantly stated in court earlier this morning. I'll give the parties a chance to say anything further if they wish to. Ms Hollis?

  • The Prosecution has nothing further, Mr President.

  • Thank you. Yes, Mr Anyah?

  • Yes, Mr President, neither do we. We have nothing to add.

  • All right then. We'll adjourn court until 9.30 tomorrow morning. Mr Taylor, for once you can leave court without my giving you that warning about discussing your evidence. 9.30 tomorrow morning.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.35 p.m. to be reconvened on Wednesday, 13 January 2010 at 9.30 a.m.]