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

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 10.02 a.m.]

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

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

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence this morning we have Silas Chekera, Logan Hambrick, our case manager Salla Moilanen, and myself Terry Munyard.

  • Right. As the parties are aware, we are going to have a status conference today at which the - amongst others, the Defence will let the Chamber know whether they will be calling any other witnesses or how else they wish to proceed. Mr Munyard, I suppose it will be you.

  • Thank you, Madam President. I can reiterate what I said last week about the prospect of calling other witnesses. I'm not ruling it out completely, but I think it's unlikely that we would call any other live witnesses.

    Madam President, the position as far as the Defence is concerned, is this: A few weeks ago, the Court ordered that we conclude the calling of evidence by 12 November. We are obviously two months ahead of that, so we have obviously saved a considerable amount of time in the interim. We still have, and are still working on, a number of written motions. What we would invite the Court to do is, in effect, to give us the same time period as the Court gave the Prosecution after they finished calling live evidence and we would make the following proposition for the consideration of the Court and the parties.

    You will recall that the Prosecution completed the re-examination of their last witness on 30 January 2009. On 9 February 2009, there was then a status conference. There were still some outstanding motions to be dealt with at that time.

    On 19 February 2009, there was a further status conference at which a number of oral decisions were handed down by the Court, and the Court then ordered a final status conference on 27 February 2009, at which the Prosecution formally closed their case. So that was a four-week period.

    Madam President, what we would submit would be an appropriate timetable is as follows: We still have, as I've indicated, a number of written motions to submit to the Court; we hope certainly to have some of those in by the end of this week.

    The Court has already indicated quite some time ago now that at the end of the Defence oral evidence, we would get the rest of our annual summer leave. We are assuming that's a two-week period. We would invite the Court to give us the two weeks leave but within the four-week period that we say corresponds to the four weeks that the Prosecution had between the end of their last live witness and the formal closing of their case. And it seems to us that an appropriate timetable would be to take us to the end of this week as a sitting term, and, as I've indicated, we hope to get some of our outstanding motions lodged by the end of this week, then to have a two-week vacation, and then a final week to consider what decisions, if any, the Court has handed down on any written motions that were still outstanding because, of course, it may well be that the Court renders decisions that either party would then want to consider appealing. And then have a final status conference at the end of that four-week period, on which date we would formally close our case.

    So, in effect, what we would submit would be an appropriate way forward is to give us the same amount of time as the Prosecution but during that time for us to have the remaining two weeks of the summer vacation.

    None of the suggestions that we are putting forward are written in stone. It's a proposal, and obviously others may have different views and we are perfectly willing to take on board any suggestions other than to vary the proposal that we've put forward, but we hope that is a proposal that makes sense, is administratively convenient, and would enable us then to close our case a full month before the time that you had originally ordered us to call the last witness by.

    Madam President, those are the submissions I make at this stage. I don't know if anyone on the Bench has any questions of us as to any of the matters that I've raised but, if not, then obviously you'll want to hear from Ms Hollis.

  • Mr Munyard, I have one question. You mentioned outstanding motions. Are these outstanding motions in relation to proposed documentary or other type of evidence and their admission, or are they of another topic? Are you at liberty to indicate to us now?

  • At the moment I'm not but, for the most part, I'm quite sure they will be documentary.

  • Mr Munyard, I just wanted to go through the calendar with you just to make sure that I have understood, and I think for everybody's sake, I'm looking at the diary; you're proposing that the Court sits, for today being the Monday, the 13th --

  • Yes.

  • That the Court sits for the rest of this week until Friday, 17 September.

  • And then you're proposing that the Court recesses for two weeks.

  • Which would effectively take us to --

  • I think 1 October, if I'm doing my mathematics correctly. I may not be. I've not - no, I have not got a calendar in front of me, and I'm simply doing the maths rather than looking at days of the week.

  • It would take us to Friday, 1 October but the working day would then be the following Monday.

  • Exactly. I got the --

  • Which would be Monday, the 4th.

  • And then thereafter you're proposing a week's sitting.

  • Or sitting within that week, which would effectively bring us to Friday, 8 October.

  • At which stage you would wish that Friday, the 8th, be the time that the Court gives the Defence to officially close their case.

  • Yes, either Friday, the 8th, or the following Monday if it was more administratively convenient, that would be the 11th.

  • Of course, Mr Munyard, all this is premised on the presumption that the Court would have delivered all the rulings due on whatever motions you would have filed.

  • Yes. And, of course, that would have to be reviewed at any status conference at the end of the recess. You might want to have or schedule a status conference at the beginning of the week after the recess to review the position with a view to a further status conference perhaps a week later. We are inevitably, to a degree, we are in uncertain territory for obvious reasons, but that's always the case with a trial where there are motions outstanding.

  • Very well. I'll ask Judge Lussick, I think he had a question or comment for you.

  • Yes. Well, I think I know the answer to this, Mr Munyard, but I'll just confirm it with you. You said that the prospect of calling other witnesses, while not out of the question, is unlikely. Now, is the hesitation about deciding on that at the moment owing to the fact that there are some further Defence motions to come, which I presume would be to admit documentary evidence, and that whether more oral witnesses are called would depend on the Trial Chamber's decision on those applications to admit documentary evidence?

  • Your Honour, that is certainly part of our thinking; that if the documentary evidence was not allowed to be introduced, then obviously we would have to consider an alternative means of presenting it. But I'm still not ruling out, and I'm not ruling out the prospect of a further witness, and I can't imagine that it would be more than one, but a further witness, coming to light before we close our case formally and us applying to call that witness. If that were the case, then it's highly likely that we would have to make an application to do so. But I don't want to rule that out at this stage in the light of my instructions, but I repeat what I said last week and what I said in my opening remarks this morning, that I don't think that it's a very likely prospect.

  • Yes, thank you.

  • Ms Hollis, we would like to hear from you, your views regarding the closing of the Defence case.

  • Thank you, Madam President. Madam President and your Honours, as Madam President pointed out at the very beginning of this case, it's not the parties who decide how to manage the case; it's the Trial Chamber. So whether the Defence or the Prosecution are amenable or not amenable, ultimately it is for your Honours to determine how best to manage this case to ensure not just a fair trial but also an expeditious trial and one that does not waste time.

    In relation to the close of the Defence case being 12 November, that was premised entirely on an estimate for the time for direct, cross-examination and re-direct examination of seven witnesses. There was no determination that no matter what the situation was the Defence would have until 12 November. So that was premised on seven witnesses being called and the maximum amount of time for examination of those witnesses.

    In relation to giving the Defence the same amount of time the Prosecution was given after it called its last witness in its case in chief. As your Honours and the Defence will recall, as of the end of the evidence of the last witness for the Prosecution, the Prosecution had filed all of its pleadings, pleadings were complete, and the reason that there was a delay thereafter was awaiting for your Honours to deliver decisions on the outstanding motions. So here we have the Defence not even having filed the motions, so it is a different scenario.

    In terms of what we would suggest for - to your Honours for the way forward, we would suggest this: We would suggest that your Honours give the Defence until the end of next week, and I believe that would be the 24th, to file any motions they intend to file. If they are motions other than for admission of evidence under Rule 92, we would ask that your Honours give an expedited schedule for the pleadings. Then we would suggest --

  • Ms Hollis, are you suggesting that the Prosecution is willing to expedite any response?

  • If it is other than 92 bis, I believe under 92 bis, I'm not sure, we may have a shortened pleading requirement for that. It would depend upon the number of motions that we were given, but certainly we would be willing to, even on a staggered basis, accept a more expeditious filing schedule to respond to those motions.

    Should, because of the number of pleadings we receive, we require more time for certain motions, we would be willing to request your Honours for permission. In any event, whether your Honours were to order it or not, the Prosecution will respond very expeditiously to any pleadings that are put before us for response.

    We do believe that it is in everyone's interests that this trial be - the evidence portion be speedily concluded, and we wish to do everything within our ability to ensure that we take part in concluding the evidence phase of this trial.

    We would suggest that there not be a recess which precludes the filing of motions or responses, because we do believe that the Defence should be ordered to file those motions by the end of next week, which would be the 24th. It is the Prosecution's recollection that the recess was going to be taken not at the end of oral evidence by the Defence but at the end of the Defence's case. Perhaps we misunderstood but that was our understanding of the recess itself. Should your Honours consider a recess, we would suggest that you nonetheless order the Defence to file their motions by the end of next week and allow for pleadings to be filed during the recess. We would suggest as an alternative that there be no recess until the end of the evidence portion of the trial.

    We believe that the Defence has had ample time to present their case. Indeed, as of today, they have had approximately 13 months since the beginning of their case. They've had 16 months since the Rule 98 decision and they've had 18 and a half months since the close of the Defence case - of the Prosecution case in chief. So we believe they have had ample time to plan their case and to present their case and it would in no way infringe on the rights of the accused for your Honours to set out a schedule for the submission of the Defence pleadings and to consider how we might best go forward in terms of responses.

    Those are the comments that the Prosecution would ask your Honours to consider.

  • Ms Hollis, the Prosecution preference is for the recess to be held after the close of the Defence case? Is that so?

  • And how long would you reckon the recess should be?

  • We realise that at the close of the Defence case, assuming that the Prosecution has no rebuttal, and that rebuttal is not allowed if we do request it, then, of course, we do need to look at beginning to prepare our written submissions which will take some time. So we would suggest that we have a short recess, no more than two weeks, if your Honours are inclined to give a recess at that time. During that time the Prosecution may allow persons to go on staggered leave but we would spend that time as well preparing our final submissions.

  • During the two weeks?

  • And you spoke of a rebuttal case. Are you still thinking of rebuttal in spite of your earlier submissions that you wouldn't have a rebuttal case?

  • We had indicated, your Honours, that as of that time we were not completing a rebuttal case. As of this time, we are not contemplating a rebuttal case. We have no idea what the Defence motions will be and that might change our thinking, but, as of today, we are not contemplating a rebuttal case.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis.

  • Madam President, might I put in one further factor, and in doing so, I would also agree that if we do have a recess before the close of the Defence case, that we wouldn't object at all, in fact, we would agree with the Prosecution's submission, that filings should still be done during the period of the recess and, of course, we also would stagger any staff leave during that time. But the additional point that I do want to make about our case is that you will recall that in the course of August, there was a period of time when we, first of all, had to prepare for and, secondly, had to listen to and deal with the reopening of the Prosecution case. So we lost, if you like, we lost some time during the course of our case while those additional witnesses were called for the Prosecution, starting on August 5 and concluding, that was a Thursday, concluding I think on Tuesday of the following week. So there was a gap when Defence evidence wasn't being called but Prosecution evidence was being called.

    Our submission is that the indication - we understood the indication originally was that we would have the rest of the recess after Defence witnesses had been called. We've been sitting now since sometime in April, we came back immediately after Easter, I think, which was quite early this year, and we've had one week's recess in that time. I can think of no other court that I've ever appeared in front of that would carry on sitting working, whether in court or out of court, without a further break, and we would therefore respectfully invite you to grant us the recess now that the oral evidence is over.

  • But, Mr Munyard, the last court ruling on the recess was to this effect; that the recess would be taken at the close of the Defence case.

  • But I'm just asking, we need to have all the arguments with us before we deliberate. Would you be opposed to a recess at the close of the Defence case?

  • We would prefer the recess as soon as possible, for what I think are obvious reasons. People feel the need for the recess as soon as possible. And, as I've already indicated, we would arrange our staffing so that filings could continue through the recess.

    It would actually, in court terms, it would be more efficient were we to have a recess with staggered staff leave in the course of which filings could still be made rather than a complete recess at the end of the Defence case, once we formally closed our case, where one would not normally expect - and, of course, there wouldn't be any filings; in other words, the Court administrative processes would continue through the recess, on our suggestion. And, as I indicated at the beginning of my remarks this morning, what we were putting forward were suggestions, no more than that. We've not sought to dictate anything to the Court. Our preference is for a recess sooner rather than later.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard. We will retire briefly and then come back to you with the schedule.

  • [Break taken at 10.26 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 11.14 a.m.]

  • The Trial Chamber has deliberated on the submissions of counsel with a view to taking the most efficient path to concluding this trial, whilst at the same time taking cognisance of the fact that the staff are tired and need a break somewhere at some stage.

    Now, we reckon that we are going to sit for the rest of this week - well, not sit, but the Court will be open for the rest of this week, and the Defence are ordered to have filed all the pending motions that they wish to file with the Trial Chamber, including 92 bis, et cetera, by Friday, 24 September. All your remaining motions are to have been filed by that date. And of course normal times will run for the motions unless the Trial Chamber otherwise expedites the time frames for the responses.

    So that means that for the next two weeks, it will be business as usual.

    We will hold a status conference on Monday, 27 September, during which we will look at the volume of pending motions and therefore decisions to be made, amongst other things. Also on that date, we will determine the date of the next status conference, which we feel we cannot decide now as that will be pre-empting the unknown.

    Now, we also order that the staff will have a recess commencing on Tuesday, the 28th, that is the day after the status conference, for two weeks, that's 14 days. Tuesday, 28 September, ending Monday, 11 October, inclusive. So your next day back from the recess will be Tuesday, 12 October.

    By staff I included the parties, of course. I thought the parties were staff.

  • Madam President, can I point out that almost everybody in this Court is staff, but the Defence team, with I think one exception, are contractors. So when you say staff, our ears prick up for that reason.

  • I absolutely beg your pardon. I thought that when I said staff I was only excluding the judges who, as you know, always don't go on recess. We are the very last people to go on recess, but that's fine, because whilst you people are enjoying your recess, we will be busy writing the decisions fortunately.

    In any event, the next day back will be on the 12th and at that stage we will on the 27th have decided the date of the next status conference. We will probably have a few decisions in by that date. If not, we will take it up from there.

    So the Court is adjourned - I don't know. Are there any questions before I adjourn?

  • Not from the Prosecution, Madam President.

  • Nor from the Defence. Thank you.

  • Very well, then. The Court is adjourned to Monday, 27 September, at 10 o'clock in the morning.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 11.20 a.m, to be reconvened on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 10.00 a.m.]