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

  • [Upon commencing at 11.00 a.m.]

  • The Special Court for Sierra Leone is sitting for a Status Conference pursuant to Rule 54. Please be seated.

  • Good morning. We could take appearance today from the parties, please.

  • [Status Conference]

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours. Brenda J Hollis, Senior Trial Attorney; Nicholas Koumjian, Trial Attorney; Maja Dimitrova, Case Manager, appear for the Prosecution today.

  • May it please, your Honour. The Defence are represented today by myself, Courtenay Griffiths, Queen's Counsel; my learned friend Mr Terry Munyard; my learned friend Mr Morris Anyah; and my learned friend Counsellor Supuwood. And also from the Office of the Principal Defender we are joined by Mr Charles Jalloh.

  • Thank you. We will formally adopt the agenda for today's Status Conference. That agenda is as published in the Trial Chamber's order of the 14th of September, and any additional issues will be dealt with under item agenda number 6.

    I don't know why there's a ring in the headphones. Could Court Management find out why the headphones are ringing?

    The first item agenda is the composition of the Defence team and the legal status of the additional co-counsel. We've -- the Bench has received a copy -- no, actually this was a letter addressed to Trial Chamber II Judges by the Office of the Principal Defender, dated 17th September, informing us of the composition of the Defence team in -- in what the Principal Defender termed the "core legal Defence and the Defence support."

    Could I just confirm from Mr Griffiths that you're aware of the document I'm speaking of?

  • I am aware of the document, your Honour, yes.

  • And indeed that the composition is as is indicated in that document, is it?

  • I would just simply like to observe with regard to the person named as the case manager. This lady appears as -- as number 6 under the core legal Defence list.

    An issue did arise some time back as to a potential conflict of interest, because this particular individual is married to one of the staff working in another department of the Special Court, and there was concern that there might arise a potential conflict of interest because these people are working, as it were, from two different ends. The husband of this lady works with the Witnesses and Victims Support, while this lady is on the Defence team.

    However, we have since received a formal letter from the Prosecutor, Mr Stephen Rapp, indicating that he has no objection to this arrangement whereby husband and wife are working in this regard, in the manner I have described.

    I just wish to request or to ask and find out from Ms Hollis whether this indeed is the case, that the Prosecution has no objection.

  • Thank you, your Honour. At this time the Prosecution has no basis for objection. So at this time the Prosecution has no objection.

  • Your Honour --

  • Just let me finish with Ms Hollis.

    The -- when the concern arose, it was because the people concerned were of the view that there was a potential conflict of interest. They did not allege any conflict of interest but, rather, potential, and out of an abundance of caution did request personnel to look into this and to ask the parties, in particular the Prosecutor, whether he agreed that there was this potential conflict of interest or he didn't.

    To me it makes no sense to ignore a potential conflict of interest and object later when something goes wrong. So when you say for now you have no objection, are you saying that later you may have an objection?

  • Your Honour, we believe that we should have a basis for an objection and not on speculation. We do not anticipate that there will be a basis for objection. However, perception, as well as reality, is a factor we must consider. So it is for that reason that the Prosecution has phrased its response as it has.

    We see no basis for objection at this time. We do not anticipate in the future there will be a basis for objection, but we cannot preclude that possibility because of potential perception issues, particularly among Prosecution witnesses.

  • Very well, Ms Hollis.

    Does Mr Griffiths have anything to say in this regard?

  • Can I add this -- [Microphone not activated]. Mrs Moilanen works in an administrative capacity with our team. She has been employed on a six-month contract with a view to being the case manager for that period of time.

    Now, no doubt the Prosecution have taken into account the role that she will play in our team in providing to your Honour the reassurance which my learned friend now has regarding the Prosecution's view as to her position, and it seems to us that that position is right. There is no basis that seems to us for there being any even potential conflict of interest given the role played within our team. So I anticipate that we can give that whole-hearted reassurance to the Court that no such difficulty will arise in due course.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths. We appreciate that.

    Ms Hollis, you've -- you've received a copy of the list from the Principal Defender of the Defence team. Are there any administrative issues that you want to address regarding this team or none?

  • Your Honour, there is one issue that we have raised with the Defence that may become an issue later on, and that has to do with assurances of the protection of non-public materials that may be reviewed by members of the Defence team who are not assigned. But as I say, we have sent that request for a solution to the Defence and we anticipate we will be able to receive the assurances that we need.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis.

    And, Mr Griffiths, I believe that is the case.

  • My learned friend anticipates -- [Microphone not activated]... nature of some of the material provided to us by the Office of the Prosecutor, and we'll, of course, endeavour to ensure that no such material comes into the possession of anyone who hasn't -- who is not aware of the importance of confidentiality and non-disclosure of that material. So I can give that assurance.

  • So that disposes of agenda item number 1.

    The second item on the agenda relates to the ongoing disclosure obligations.

    During the last Status Conference it was brought to the Judges' attention that the Defence was not sure whether all the materials formally disclosed to the former Defence team had actually been transferred to the new Defence team, and they were going to look into this and report at this Status Conference the status of -- of the disclosure.

    Could we hear from Mr Griffiths if it's now satisfactory?

  • Your Honour, I think I have the gist of the issue which troubles your Honour. We were -- we experienced some difficulty in understanding and fully appreciating the filing system adopted by the previous team. We've now, with the assistance of Mrs Moilanen, identified to our mind all materials which have been disclosed by the Prosecution and are now confident that we have all such materials within our possession. And we'd like to thank the Office of the Prosecutor for the assistance they've provided to us, in particular over the last few days in terms of cross-referencing material and generally assisting us in -- assisting and assuring us that we do have everything now at our disposal.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths. Mr Griffiths, it would help if you could wear your earphones. You might hear better.

  • Pardon?

  • If you wore your earphones, you might hear us better. I know it's clumsy, but you'll get the hang of it.

    Ms Hollis, is there anything you'd want to comment on item agenda number 2.

  • Agenda item number 3 regards the pending motion, and in this regard I don't plan to go into the merits of the motions but simply to thank the parties, because the -- it wasn't easy bringing in all the pleadings. But I think with the exception of one motion, namely the Prosecution motion for admission of materials pursuant to Rule 89(C) and Rule 92 bis, the reply with regard to this particular motion, which is due, I think, on the 24th of September, the pleadings with regard to every other motion have come in in a timely manner, and the Bench is currently considering these motions and will be issuing their decisions with regard thereto shortly.

    Is there anything administrative that the parties would like to address regarding the pending motions?

  • Nothing for the Prosecution, your Honour.

  • Likewise, your Honour.

  • Thank you. Agenda item number 4. This is a progress with regard to agreed facts.

    As you know, the longer the list of agreed facts, the closer we are -- or the shorter the trial should be.

    The Defence did indicate that in addition to the facts -- the very few facts agreed to by the former Defence team, the new Defence team would be looking to explore other areas of agreement.

    Now, one month later we do not know what -- what the situation is, whether there's progress in that regard or not. We're not putting pressure on you to give us a list today, but we just wish to know if there's progress or if there are difficulties you're encountering in this regard.

    Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Anyah is going to deal with this topic, your Honour.

  • Good morning, your Honour Madam President, learned counsels for the Prosecution. May it please the Court, initially when we saw this item on the agenda, it was a little bit unclear to us the specific nature of the discussion that would take place today, but given the comments from your Honour Madam President, I would make a few observations.

    The Court, in its comments, indicated that the new Defence team has accepted whole-heartedly the facts that were previously agreed to with the Prosecution by the former Defence team. In preparing for the Status Conference today, we did review those facts once again, and two slight observations or, shall we say, proposed corrections did come to mind. With the Court's permission, I would briefly point those out for purposes of making the record.

    The first one is fact number 6. And for the record, the document to which I refer was file stamped with the Registry on April the 26th, 2007. The CMS number is number 227. The title of the submission is, "Joint Filing by the Prosecution and Defence: Admitted Facts and Law."

    With respect to item number 6, in that submission it is there stated that Liberia became a member -- Liberia became a Member State of the Economic Organisation of West African States in 1975. I think the correction we would propose to the Court, and to the Prosecution as well, is that ECOWAS stands for the Economic Community of West African States.

    And with regard again to item number 14, it is there stated that: "Sierra Leone is a country in Western Africa, whose western shores touch the Atlantic Ocean and whose neighbouring countries include, inter alia, Guinea and Liberia."

    Our proposed correction would be that Sierra Leone is bordered by only two countries and not, inter alia, by Guinea and Liberia. Those two countries, of course, being Guinea and Liberia. And with those proposed corrections to the extent they are agreed to by the Prosecution, this Defence team would be pleased to accept all the facts that were previously agreed to with the Prosecution by the prior Defence team.

    With respect to the issue of prospective agreed facts and law between the parties, the exercise that we recently undertook in responding to the Prosecution's respective motions for judicial notice, as well as their motions for the admission of materials pursuant to Rules 89(C) and 92 bis, that exercise explicated set-in areas to which we could arrive at for the agreement. We would, however, ask for the Chamber's indulgence to allow us a few weeks to revisit that issue, perhaps at a future Status Conference, by which time it would be fair to say that the parties would have presented further facts to the Chamber in the nature of a stipulated agreed facts and law.

    Thank you, your Honour.

  • Mr Anyah, by "a few weeks" you mean exactly what? Four weeks, six weeks? By the next Status Conference you might have indicated additional agreed facts?

  • Yes, Madam President. I would -- I would propose, if it please the Court, a minimum period of at least six weeks. Perhaps the middle of November, if your Honours please.

  • Very well. I think that sounds reasonable.

  • Your Honour, could I just add to that? We've given the matter some consideration and felt that it would be of assistance to the Court to have a further Status Conference before the commencement date for the trial currently set for the 7th of January, and we felt given the - pardon me - amount of work which we still feel needs to be addressed, a date sometime in mid-November would be most convenient for -- in terms of the progress of our preparation and also giving us sufficient time before the commencement of the trial to iron out any wrinkles which might emerge at such a further meeting of the Court.

  • Mr Griffiths, if you might recall, at the last Status Conference, towards the end I did indicate that the Bench intended to hold regular, in fact monthly, Status Conferences between then and the 7th of January, this being the second of those Status Conferences, because we -- we believe that if we had these regular monthly meetings it would give the parties a chance to address any developments or difficulties they might encounter in between the Status Conferences, to bring those to the attention of the Court, and also to gauge the progress of preparations. So your request has already been granted, and we've done one better by scheduling regular monthly Status Conferences.

    We don't want you to feel that we're putting undue pressure, but we need -- we have a duty as the Judges to ensure that preparations are indeed continuing and are running smoothly, and to iron out as many issues as possible before the 7th of January next year.

  • [Microphone not activated]... was making was this: I was hoping perhaps to prevent you from enjoying the pleasures of The Hague for -- on another occasion in October by suggesting that the next meeting be in mid-November, unless, of course, the Court feels it necessary to hold a conference in October as well.

  • Mr Griffiths, for your information, we have no choice. We live here.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Ms Hollis, we were thinking of having a Status Conference in October, but if -- if the parties think that October may be too soon and there won't have been that much progress to report upon, we could defer and instead hold this somewhere in the middle of November. I don't know. We want to hear your views before we decide.

  • Thank you, Madam President. At this point the Prosecution would be inclined to agree with the Defence that the next scheduled one could be November, realising, of course, that matters may arise of which we are not aware now which would require a meeting in October. But scheduling the next regular session, the next Status Conference, for November would in no way preclude the Court from setting a date in October if it were determined to be necessary.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Okay. This was going to come in rather later in the fixing of the date for the next Status Conference, but while we're at it, we are thinking -- or we're proposing Tuesday, the 13th of November, as a probable date for the next Status Conference then.

    That seems agreeable to the parties.

  • Your Honour, yes.

  • Yes, your Honour.

  • Okay. So tentatively Tuesday, the 13th of November, we would hold the next Status Conference to review progress.

    But to proceed with the agenda items for today, there's the issue of the witness lists. I would imagine that it's a little early for the Prosecution to issue their witness lists for the start of the hearing in January. I don't know if there are any issues between the parties regarding witness lists, but this was one of the items that we put on the agenda for today.

  • Your Honour, it is a bit early to have a final list for the first session. We do, of course, at this point have our entire witness list in the order we wish to call them. However, logistics and other matters may arise so that it would be better to wait until later to provide a definitive list for the first session.

  • Very well, Ms Hollis.

    Mr Griffiths, is there any comment?

  • I think it's premature to be discussing this matter now, your Honour, frankly.

  • This then brings me to agenda item number 6, which is any additional issues that maybe the Prosecution never got to -- to file with the Chamber in time.

  • Your Honour, we have nothing additional at this time.

  • Defence?

  • Your Honour, there's just one matter which we mention at this stage, not intending to raise it formally but merely to make the Court aware that in due course it is a matter we may seek to address before your Honours.

    Various issues have arisen which give us cause for concern concerning the accused's condition of detention. I do not propose to trouble the Court with those issues at this stage, because in the first instance we will raise the matters with the Office of the Registrar, he having principal and direct possibility for the conditions of detention of the accused, but we do alert the Court that if in due course we are unable to resolve these issues with the Registrar, then it seems to us only proper that they are matters which ought to be brought to the attention the Court.

  • Very well, Mr Griffiths. That is indeed the procedure.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • There being no other business, I think we will adjourn, and the next Status Conference is scheduled for Tuesday, the 13th of November. We will in due course publish, of course, an agenda for that particular Status Conference.

    Court is adjourned accordingly. Thank you.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 11.29 a.m.]