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

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.]

  • Yes, we'll take appearances, please.

  • Good morning, Mr President, your Honours opposing counsel. This morning for the Prosecution, Brenda J Hollis, Christopher Santora and our case manager, Maja Dimitrova.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis. Mr Anyah?

  • Yes, good morning, Mr President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel opposite. Appearing for the Defence this morning myself, Morris Anyah. I am joined by Mr Simon Chapman and Ms Haydee Dijkstal.

  • Thank you, Mr Anyah. We see that once more Mr Griffiths is not in Court. What's the situation, Mr Anyah?

  • That is indeed the case, Mr President. Mr Griffiths rang me this morning at about 8.20 a.m. and he gave me an update on his medical condition. He indicated that yesterday a doctor came to his flat or his apartment and examined him and the doctor was unsure after the examination of the precise nature of his medical condition. However, the doctor did prescribe antibiotics and the antibiotics are for both the possibility of a viral infection as well as pneumonia and Mr Griffiths is to take the antibiotics for a period of approximately eight days.

    In the circumstances, and given the persistent sore throat, he thought it wise to avoid coming into the courtroom, given that this is an enclosed setting and there exists the possibility of transferring any possible infections he might have. He wanted me to make it clear that it is not a case of him being unable to be on his feet or to move around. It is simply a case of him being unsure of his medical condition, him still feeling under the weather so to speak, and he having to take this regimen of antibiotics.

    In the circumstances - and Mr Taylor is well informed about this, he himself has spoken with Mr Griffiths this morning, and as your Honours will observe he still appears before your Honours today nonetheless. In the circumstances, we wish to seek an adjournment for a day. Although it seems to me that bearing in mind that tomorrow is Thursday, your Honours might be inclined to consider adjourning the case for the rest of this week because by then we would have a couple of days to assess Mr Griffiths's situation and perhaps there will be feedback from the doctor as to the precise nature of his medical condition. I leave that second request, the possibility of an adjournment for the entire week in your Honours' hands and in your discretion, but for our purposes my application is for an adjournment for one day until tomorrow.

  • If we grant the one-day adjournment, Mr Anyah, what are the realistic prospects of Mr Griffiths being ready to resume tomorrow?

  • Without knowing the precise nature of his physical condition, I haven't seen him, I have merely spoken to him on the telephone, my assessment would be the probability would be below 50 per cent that he would be here tomorrow. But we want to show good faith that he will make every effort to be here to the extent it is possible, so we presume a day-to-day evaluation of where he is might be the best course forward vis-a-vis showing good faith on our part.

  • I appreciate that, Mr Anyah. From what you are saying though, Mr Griffiths's condition might in fact be pneumonia. Was that one of the diagnoses?

  • All I know is that the prescribed antibiotics also encompasses pneumonia. It could be either a viral infection or pneumonia. That is, it seems to me, a possibility under the circumstances.

  • Considering the other option of giving Mr Griffiths time to recover or at least be more certain of his medical condition, assuming that we adjourned for the rest of this week and Mr Griffiths is not ready to resume next Monday, would the Defence then be in a position to have co-counsel continue Mr Taylor's evidence on Monday?

  • We appreciate the question. It is a legitimate question, but I think it's too premature to respond affirmatively to that question in the sense that Mr Griffiths is Mr Taylor's lead counsel. He is the person Mr Taylor has chosen to lead his examination and, that being the case, if the wishes of the accused are to be borne in mind it would seem that every effort would have to be made to accommodate Mr Griffiths under the circumstances.

    Your Honours will take note that in our filing of our weekly witness order, the last one CMS-837 on 31 August, Monday this week, and that encompasses the week of 14 through 17 September, Mr Taylor is again listed as our only witness. That indicates that we anticipate his testimony running through the middle of the month at a minimum and Mr Griffiths and him have been, in our view, doing a job that is exceptional for our purposes and we don't wish to disrupt that flow. So if we come back on Monday and he is unwell I'm sure I will have instructions to report to the Court about the best way of proceeding forward then.

  • All right. Thank you, Mr Anyah. I don't know, Ms Hollis, whether you want to respond to that application or - I'll give you a chance in any event.

  • Thank you, Mr President. In light of the condition of the Defence counsel, the only other option would seem to be perhaps to be informed this afternoon as to whether Mr Griffiths himself believes he would be able to come tomorrow, but it would certainly make sense to have a view toward no Court tomorrow as well.

    In terms of what options are available to your Honours should Mr Griffiths be ill next week, the Prosecution is of the view that it is entirely within your discretion to order that other counsel proceed, having in mind of course that this has been and will continue apparently to be a very lengthy examination. So it would be a matter of balancing short-term gain and long-term gain, but we think that's entirely within your discretion.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • We have considered the Defence application for an adjournment. It's on the basis that lead counsel is again unavailable to appear in Court because of illness. Now, this Trial Chamber is sympathetic to the fact that Mr Griffiths is not well enough to come to Court and we also appreciate that Mr Griffiths has personally taken on the responsibility for the presentation of the accused's evidence.

    Nevertheless, the trial must proceed and the Trial Chamber is of this view that, firstly, we will grant an adjournment until next Monday. That will give Mr Griffiths hopefully a chance to recover and appear in Court. But if on Monday Mr Griffiths is not well enough to come to Court, then this Trial Chamber is of the view that Mr Taylor will not be prejudiced whatsoever if the continuation of the presentation of his evidence is taken over by one or other of the experienced co-counsel that are part of the Defence team. So that is the likely situation that will happen on Monday if Mr Griffiths is still too ill to attend Court.

    Having said that, we will now adjourn this case until 9.30 next Monday morning.

  • Thank you, Mr President.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 9.43 a.m. to be reconvened on Monday, 7 September 2009 at 9.30 a.m.]