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

  • [In the absence of the witness]

  • Good morning. We will take appearances, please.

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

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.35 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence there's myself, Terry Munyard, Silas Chekera, Morris Anyah and Logan Hambrick.

  • Thank you. Madam Court Officer, I am given to understand that there are some new interpreters waiting to be sworn.

  • Your Honour, that is the case.

  • We will have them sworn before we proceed.

  • [Interpreters sworn]

  • Thank you. Now, before the witness is returned into the Court, that's witness 68, there is a ruling pending upon a Prosecution application, and this is the ruling:

    The Prosecution applied to obtain from the Defence the witness statement or statements of Defence witness DCT-68 on the grounds that the witness's testimony in cross-examination contradicts the entry in the witness summary that states:

    "Witness will testify that he was with Sam Bockarie in Buedu when the Freetown invasion occurred, and he was also with Sam Bockarie while Sam Bockarie spoke on radio and claimed to be in Freetown."

    Counsel submitted that this entry contradicts the witness's testimony in cross-examination when he stated:

    1. That he was in Bomaru during the 6 January invasion where he thinks he stayed for less than a week before going to Buedu;

    2. That he could not remember hearing Sam Bockarie speak on the radio.

    Counsel submitted that those contradictions are critical, and the witness's credibility can only be tested by examining his statement.

    The Defence opposed the application on the grounds firstly that Prosecution application is premature. In this regard, Defence counsel submitted that the witness's answers, when put in context, do not contradict the witness's summary. In particular, Defence counsel pointed out that the Freetown invasion was an event that started on 6 January and went on for several days, even weeks, before the rebels were driven out of Freetown. Consequently, when the witness states that he was in Bomaru on 6 January and a few days later went to Buedu, this in fact does not contradict the witness summary.

    Counsel also points out that the Prosecution has not yet asked the witness whether or not he was in fact with Sam Bockarie when the latter spoke on a radio.

    Secondly, the Defence argued that the witness raised - that the issues raised by the Prosecution, namely, whether or not the witness was in Buedu or Bomaru on the day when the Freetown invasion began, or whether or not the witness was with Sam Bockarie when the latter spoke on the radio, are issues that do not go to any aspect in the indictment and are therefore marginal and cannot possibly be said to cause irreparable prejudice to the Prosecution or to be in the interest of justice.

    Counsel asked the Trial Chamber to dismiss the application.

    Now, as we have stated before, there is no blanket right for the Prosecution to see the statement of a Defence witness. We have also stated that the Trial Chamber retains the discretion to make a decision based on the particular circumstances of the case at hand upon a showing by the Prosecution that it will otherwise suffer irreparable prejudice and that such disclosure is in the interest of justice.

    In this case, we have considered the witness's testimony in cross-examination as cited by Prosecution counsel in comparison with the excerpt at page 48 of the witness summary. We agree with the Defence that given that the Freetown invasion merely started on 6 January but lasted for several days until the rebels were driven out of Freetown, the witness's testimony that he was in Bomaru on 6 January and a few days later moved to Buedu is not necessarily inconsistent with the summary, especially since the witness was not asked succinctly whether he was with Sam Bockarie when the Freetown invasion occurred. That question was not put to the witness.

    Similarly, we note that when the witness testified that he could not remember what Sam Bockarie said on the radio, this does not necessarily signify a contradiction or inconsistency. In the premises, we agree with the Defence that the application is premature and that the Prosecution has not demonstrated irreparable prejudice and interest of justice.

    We hasten to point out though that the issues raise by the Prosecution have to do with the credibility of the witness and need not be matters that were raised in the examination-in-chief of the witness, nor need they be central to the issues in the indictment as stated by the Defence.

    The application is denied.

    The witness may now be brought in.

  • [In the presence of the witness]

  • Now, Mr Witness, we are going to continue with your evidence this morning, but I would like to remind you of the oath you took yesterday to tell the truth. You are still bound by that oath today.

  • Thank you. And I will abide by it.