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

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 3.00 p.m.]

  • Good afternoon, Your Honour. This is case SCSL 2003-01-I, The Prosecutor v Charles Taylor.

  • Yes, thank you, chief of Court Management. I will take the appearances for the record. I do have some written particulars . I beg your pardon, we must swear some interpreters . Chief of Court Management, will you administer the oath, please.

  • [CT034APR06I-A-RK]

  • [Initial Appearance]

  • [Open session]

  • I will administrator the oath under Rule 76 to all interpreters.

  • [Interpreters sworn]

  • I will take the appearances for the record. I see Mr Chief Prosecutor. Would you announce your appearance in this case, please.

  • May it please, My Lord, Desmond de Silva, Prosecutor. Behind me is the Deputy Prosecutor, Mr Christopher Staker. On my right is Brenda Hollis. On her right is Mr Mohamed Bangura. Behind Mr Bangura is James Johnson and on his left is Mr Joseph Kamara. My Lord, that is the Prosecution team this afternoon.

  • Thank you, Mr Chief Prosecutor. I see the Principal Defender there. Would you be good enough to announce the appearances for the accused, please.

  • I will, Your Honour. Vincent Nmehielle, Principal Defender of the Special Court, acting pursuant to Rule 45 sub-Rule (A), 45(B)(i) and (ii) appearing as duty counsel for the accused. Appearing with me is Mrs Elizabeth Nahamya, Deputy Principal Defender, and in support of our appearance are Mr Charles Jalloh, Ms Haddijatou Kah-Jallow, Ms Claire Carlton-Hanciles and Mr Lansana Dumbuya.

  • Thank you, Mr Principal Defender. The accused Charles Taylor has been brought before this Court today to be formally charged in accordance with the indictment. It should be a very simple process, but before I do that, do you have anything you want to add, Mr Chief Prosecutor?

  • No, My Lord. Apart from concurring with Your Lordship, it should be a swift process.

  • Thank you. Mr Principal Defender, it is a fairly standard process of reading the indictment and then giving Mr Taylor a chance to plead to each count, but if you have anything that you would like to add to that, by all means do.

  • Your Honour, thank you for that opportunity . I know that after the reading of the indictment, if Your Honour permits, there may be some issues of concern, if you do permit, for the accused person to raise before the Court.

  • I will see if they are relevant or not. We will proceed with having the indictment read at this stage.

  • Thank you, Your Honour.

  • Amended Indictment.

  • Just before you do. If you pause there for a moment, please.

  • I am quite sure the accused has received the benefit of the proper legal advice from the Principal Defender and his defence team. However, I just wanted to mention to the accused that he has some important rights. You can be seated, Mr Principal Defender. They are important enough to read again. I will say to the accused under the Statute of the Special Court of Sierra Leone you have certain rights and amongst these rights, you are presumed innocent until proved otherwise. You will be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of your defence, and you will be able to communicate with counsel of your own choosing. You will be tried without undue delay.

    As far as your right to counsel goes, I know the Principal Defender, you are in good hands there, and I'm sure he has given you all the necessary advice. In any event, I can tell you that you have the right to defend yourself in person, or you have the right to legal assistance of your own choosing, or you can ask the Court to assign legal assistance to you, and that can be without payment by you if you don't have sufficient means.

    Now, the Chief of Court Management will read out the indictment, at the end of which you will have the opportunity to answer to the charges count by count. Yes, thank you.

  • Thank you, Your Honour.

    Amended Indictment. The Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone under Article 15 of the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Statute charges:

    Charles Ghankay Taylor aka Dankpannah Charles Ghankay Taylor aka Dankpannah Charles Ghankay Macarthur Taylor with crimes against humanity, violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II and other serious violations of International Humanitarian Law in violation of Article 2, 3 and 4 of the Statute as set forth below.

    Charles Ghankay Taylor aka Dankpannah Charles Ghankay Taylor aka Dankpannah Charles Ghankay Macarthur Taylor was born on 27th or 28th January 1948 at Arthington in the Republic of Liberia.

    From the late 1980s the accused was the leader or head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), an organised armed group. From the 2nd of August 1997 until about 11th of August 2003, the accused was the president of the Republic of Liberia.

    Paragraphs 1 through 3 are incorporated by reference in charges below.

    Charges:

    By his acts or omissions in relation to the below described events, the accused, pursuant to Article 6.1 and/or alternatively Article 6.3 of the Statute is individually criminally responsible for the crimes alleged below:

    Terrorising the civilian population.

    Count 1: acts of terrorism, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II punishable under Article 3.d of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Members of Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), AFRC/RUF junta or alliance and/or Liberian fighters, including members and ex-members of the NPFL (Liberian fighters) assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused burned civilian property and committed the crimes set forth below in paragraphs 6 through 31, and charged in count 2 through 11 as part of a campaign to terrorise the civilian population of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

    Burning.

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged by acting in concert with under the direction and/or control and/or subordinate to the accused engaged in widespread destruction of civilian property by burning, including the following:

    Kono District.

    Between about 1st February 1998 and about 31st December 1998 in various locations, including Koidu, Tumbodu or Tombodu, Sewafe or Njaima Sewafe, Wendedu and Bumpeh;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and about 28 February 1999 in locations throughout Freetown, including Kissy and eastern Freetown and the Fourah Bay, Upgun, State House, Calaba Town, Kingtom and Pademba Road areas of the city and Hastings, Goderich, Kent, Grafton, Wellington, Tumbo, Waterloo and Benguema in the Western area.

    Unlawful killings.

    Count 2: murder, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2.a of the Statute.

    In addition, or in the alternative :

    Count 3: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, punishable under Article 3.a of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002 members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused throughout Sierra Leone unlawfully killed an unknown number of civilians, including the following:

    Kenema District.

    Between about 25 May 1997 and about 31 March 1998, in various locations, including Kenema Town and the Tongo Field area;

    Kono District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and about 31 January 2000, in various locations, including Koidu, Tombodu or Tumbodu, Koidu Geiya, Koidu Buma, Yengema, Paema or Peyima, Bomboa fuidu, Bumpeh, Nimikoro or Njaima Nimikoro and Mortema;

    Kailahun District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and about 30 June 1998, in various locations, including Kailahun Town;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and 28 February 1999 in locations throughout Freetown, including the State House, Kissy, Fourah Bay, Upgun, Calaba Town, Allen Town and Tower Hill areas of the city, and Hastings, Wellington, Tumbo, Waterloo and Benguema in the Western area.

    Sexual violence.

    Count 4: Rape, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2.g of the Statute; and.

    Count 5: Sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2.g of the Statute.

    In addition, or in the alternative ;

    Count 6: Outrages upon personal dignity, a violation of Article 3 common to Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, punishable under 3.e of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused committed widespread acts of sexual violence against civilian women and girls, including the following:

    Kono District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and about 31 December 1998, raped an unknown number of women and girls in various locations, including Koidu, Tombodu or Tumbodu, Wondedu and AFRC and/or RUF camps such as "Superman Ground", "Guinea Highway" and "PC Ground"; abducted an unknown number of women and girls from various locations within the district or brought them from locations outside the district and used them as sex slaves;

    Kailahun District.

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, raped an unknown number of women and girls in locations throughout Kailahun District; abducted many victims from other areas of the Republic of Sierra Leone, brought them to locations throughout the district and used them as sex slaves;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and about 28 of February 1999, raped an unknown number of women and girls throughout Freetown and the Western Area, and abducted an unknown number of women and girls and used them as sex slaves.

    Physical violence.

    Count 7: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular, cruel treatment, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, punishable under Article 3.a of the Statute.

    In addition, or in the alternative :

    Count 8. Other inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2.i of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused, committed widespread acts of physical violence against civilians, including the following:

    Kono District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and about 31 December 1998, mutilated and beat an unknown number of civilians in various locations, including Tombodu or Tumbodu, Kaima or Kayima and Wondedu. The mutilations included cutting off limbs and other body parts and carving "AFRC" and "RUF" on the body of civilians;

    Kailahun District.

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, beat an unknown number of civilians in locations throughout the district;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and about 28 February 1999, mutilated and beat an unknown number of civilians in various areas of Freetown, including the Northern and Eastern areas of the city, the Kissy area around the State House, Fourah Bay, Upgun, and Kissy mental hospital, and Hastings, Wellington, Tumbo, Waterloo and Benguema in the Western Area. The mutilations included cutting off limbs.

    Child soldiers.

    Count 9: Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities , another serious violation of International Humanitarian Law, punishable under Article 4.c of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002 throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of and/or subordinate to the accused, routinely conscripted , enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities . Many of these children were first abducted then trained in AFRC and/or RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters.

    Abductions and forced labour.

    Count 10: Enslavement , a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2.c of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, members of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters, assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused, engaged in widespread and large-scale abductions of civilians and use of civilians as forced labour, including the following:

    Kenema District.

    Between about 1 July 1997 and about 28 February 1998, used an unknown number of civilians living in the district as forced labour in various locations such as the Tongo Field area;

    Kono District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and 18 January 2002, abducted an unknown number of civilians and took them to various locations outside the district, or to locations within the district such as AFRC and/or RUF camps, Tombodu or Tumbodu, Koidu and Wondedu, and used them as forced labour;

    Kailahun District.

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, brought abducted civilian men, women and children to various locations within the district and used them and residents of the district as forced labour;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and about 28 February 1999, abducted an unknown number of civilians, including a large number of children, from locations throughout Freetown and the Western Area and used them as forced labour.

    Looting.

    Count 11: Pillage, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, punishable under Article 3.f of the Statute.

    Particulars .

    Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, members of the of RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters assisted and encouraged, by acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the accused, engaged in widespread unlawful taking of civilian property, including the following:

    Kono District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and about 31 December 1998 in various locations, including Koidu, Tombodu or Tumbodu and Bumpe;

    Bombali District.

    Between about 1 February 1998 and 30 April 1998, in various locations, including Masiaka and Makeni;

    Freetown and Western Area.

    Between about 21 December 1998 and about 28 February 1999 throughout Freetown and the Western Area.

    Paragraphs 4 through 31 are incorporated by reference in individual criminal responsibility below.

    Individual criminal responsibility .

    The Accused by his acts or omissions is individually criminally responsible pursuant to Article 6.1 of the Statute for the crimes referred to in Article 2, 3 and 4 of the Statute, as alleged in this Amended Indictment, which crimes the Accused planned, instigated, ordered, committed, or in whose planning, preparation or execution the Accused otherwise aided and abetted, or which crimes amounted to or were involved within a common plan, design or purpose in which the Accused participated or were reasonably foreseeable consequence of such common plan, design or purpose.

    In addition, or alternatively , pursuant to Article 6.3 of the Statute, the Accused while holding positions of superior responsibility and exercising command and control over the subordinate members of the RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF junta or alliance and or Liberian fighters, is individually criminally responsible for the crimes referred to in Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Statute as alleged in this Amended Indictment. The Accused is responsible for the criminal acts of his subordinates in that he knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the Accused failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof.

    Dated 16 March 2006, Freetown Sierra Leone, by the Prosecutor, Desmond de Silva.

  • Mr Principal Defender, have you or one of the duty counsel taken Mr Taylor through that indictment?

  • Mr Taylor, did you understand the indictment that has just reason read to you? I don't know whether you heard my question. I'm simply asking whether you understand the charges brought against you in the indictment? Can you hear what I'm saying?

    The indictment that has just been read out, do you understand the charges that have been brought against you?

  • Now I'm going to give you now a chance to answer those charges by entering a plea of either guilty or not guilty. I will go through each of the counts one by one and perhaps if you would be good enough to tell me whether you plead guilty or not guilty.

    The first count is count 1, is terrorising the civilian population namely, acts of terrorism. How do you plead to that, Mr Taylor, guilty or not guilty?

  • If it pleases the Court, I would like to respond to all 11 counts at the end because there are some issues that I would like to mention here about the recognition of this Court and other issues that I would not be able to put in the plea at this particular time. There is an issue here regarding this Court, its right to exercise jurisdiction over me as the 21st President of the Republic of Liberia. There are other issues about how I got here. If it pleases Your Honour, these are fundamental issues. So for me now it is not the matter of entering a plea, because I do not recognise the jurisdiction of this Court.

  • Mr Taylor, I don't know what advice you have been given, but two things. Firstly, this matter has been thrashed out already in the Appeals Chamber, which found against you. And, secondly, until such time as your Initial Appearance is completed, you don't have the right to bring any motions before this Court. So what I would suggest is that you enter pleas today and then whatever objections you may have, you can bring them by motion and they will need to be decided by the full bench of the Trial Chamber. They will not be dealt with today in any event, but if you do not complete your Initial Appearance today, under the Rules of our Court you cannot bring a motion before the Court. So I think you should enter pleas now and you can then, if you choose, bring your motions, whatever they may be.

  • Most definitely, Your Honour, I did not and could not have committed these acts against the sister Republic of Sierra Leone. I think that this is an attempt to continue to divide and rule the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone, so most definitely I'm not guilty.

  • Now I can take that plea of not guilty as applying to the whole 11 counts that have just been read out to you.

  • That is correct, Your Honour.

  • Well, thank you, Mr Taylor. I will enter on behalf of you pleas of not guilty to counts 1 to 11 in the indictment.

  • As the Court pleases.

  • Yes, you may have a seat, Mr Taylor.

    I think that concludes our business today. Mr de Silva, do you have anything further you would like to add?

  • No, My Lord. I think that does conclude our business today. There is nothing else I feel that needs to be drawn to the attention of the court. Would you Lordship forgive me for just one moment.

    My Lord, there is a matter --

  • I am familiar with that, Mr de Silva. I thought the Principal Defender, whose duty it is to appoint counsel, albeit temporary counsel, would have resolved that, but if you think that I should comply strictly with the rule, I will.

  • My Lord, I think there is nothing wrong with complying strictly with the rule. The rule is fairly simple and I would have thought in the interests of clarity and concluding dealing with this rule, if Your Lordship were to feel minded to do so, we would submit it would be appropriate .

  • All right. Before I do, Mr Principal Defender, these are matters I hope you have already discussed with the accused.

  • Yes, Your Honour. On the issue of the means that the Prosecutor alludes to, there is a procedure under the directive on the assignment of counsel which we have gone through with the accused person in relation to his means. Whereby the accused person has filed a declaration of means which we supplied him to determine his state -- financial status in terms of whether or not he would require legal assistance from this Court. And following the completion of the declaration of means, the accused person made a request to the Principal Defender for legal representation and my determination , which I am in the process of filing, if not already filed before I came here, is that I find that from the information contained in the declaration of means, as at present the accused person will require legal assistance because he could be deemed partially indigent.

  • Yes, thank you, Mr Principal Defender.

  • My Lord, I'm very sorry to hear that, but there is a further matter that is under Rule 61(iv).

  • I was saving that for the last order, Mr de Silva.

  • I didn't intend to jump the gun. I'm so sorry.

  • I think that does conclude our business now and, Principal Defender, you have heard what Mr Taylor had to say and I trust you will give him the appropriate advice.

  • Very well, Your Honour.

    Your Honour, I had made an initial request at the beginning if you could permit some of the concerns that the accused person has which I don't think would in any way impinge upon this process this afternoon.

  • Just one moment, Mr Principal Defender. Mr de Silva, having learned that, as I suspected, the accused has filed with the Principal Defender a document as to his means, I take it you would be satisfied.

  • My Lord, yes. It is something that was unknown to me. It was unknown to me and that is why I raised that matter and, of course, I leave that enquiry at that and take it no further.

  • Yes, thank you.

    Yes, Mr Principal Defender.

  • Yes, Your Honour. I do not know if you would permit the accused person to say something about the concerns that he has which he has communicated to me he would love to express to the Court.

  • Well, firstly I have just heard from the accused. Were those the matters that the accused raised the matter that you're referring now?

  • No, Your Honour.

  • Well, look, just have a seat, Mr Principal Defender. We will lay this rule right now, that if an accused is represented by counsel, then it is counsel who will put the accused's case to the Court. There are some very good reasons for that, which I'm sure all counsel here today know. That is the way it is going to be in this Court.

  • Very well, Your Honour. If I may, I could raise the concerns.

  • Your Honour, the accused person wants to inform the Court that he fears for his life and therefore would express that to the Court as a concern that he has. Particularly , according to him, in view of the fact that Mr Foday Sankoh died in detention while at this Court and also in view of the fact that recently Mr Milosevic also died in detention and, therefore, fears for his life and would love that necessary facilities in terms of his health and to ensure his safety be provided.

    Secondly, the accused person fears that not being in Liberia his family is not here and has some concerns as to him needing the moral support of his family in Sierra Leone and, therefore, every necessary facility in that regard to facilitate his family being able to have access to him be provided.

    That is it, Your Honour.

  • Yes, thank you, Mr Principal Defender. I don't know whether you --

  • Just one moment.

    Sorry, Your Honour, this will, of course, also be subjected to some other procedure, but the accused person wants me to bring to the attention of the Court of his concern that he wants to be tried in Sierra Leone and nowhere else. Thank you, Your Honour. That is the concern he has in terms of the logistics, his possible witnesses and the fact that this is a domestically -based trial for him within the sub-region. To facilitate his family from Liberia to come to Sierra Leone, he thinks that the most appropriate venue for him if the trial is to go on is in Sierra Leone. He raises that before the Court. Just one more minute. Let me confer with the accused person.

  • [Principal Defender and accused conferred]

  • Thank you, Your Honour, for your indulgence. I will just try to emphasise the last point that I made, that he needs the trial here, if it is to go on, principally because his witnesses are based here, the logistics, the tendency that there may be a deprivation of access by his witnesses to countries that he hears are being proposed and they could easily be denied visa to get to those places that are being proposed. And, therefore, he believes for the logistics of his case, Sierra Leone will be the most appropriate venue. Those are the concerns he wants me to relay to the Court. I thank you so much for the opportunity to put them through to the Court.

  • Yes, thank you, Mr Principal Defender. Chief Prosecutor, I don't know whether you wish to reply in any way.

  • I have no observations to make, My Lord.

  • Yes, well, I have taken a note of what Mr Taylor has said and I have also noted what the Principal Defender has said on his behalf and I will direct the relevant parts of the transcript be forwarded to the Registrar.

    As you know, Mr Principal Defender, the matters you raised are the responsibility of another organ of the Court, at least in the first instance and there is a certain procedure to deal with Mr Taylor's concerns under the rules of detention. So what I will do at this stage is, as I said, I will direct the relevant part of the transcript for the Registrar's attention.

    Thank you, Mr Principal Defender.

  • Thank you, Your Honour.

  • The last order I will make is pursuant to Rule 61(iv). I adjourn this hearing to a date to be fixed and I instruct the Registrar to set a date for trial. That, of course, will be subject to certain procedural matters laid down in the Rules. Does that meet with your approval on Rule 61(iv)?

  • Indeed, My Lord, yes.

  • Thank you. I will adjourn the Court.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 3.55 p.m.]