Now, the first point that I wish to make is with regard to the decision of the Court in relation to the urgent and public joint submission by the Prosecutor and the Office of the Principal Defender in relation to the recommencement of the trial today.
This was an urgent motion that the two institutions jointly filed last week, on the 28th, and we did issue on the same day, the 28th, a written decision, a written order, but reserved our reasons to be read out in court today, and that is what I am about to do.
Now, on the 25th of June 2007, the Trial Chamber adjourned the trial proceedings to Tuesday, the 3rd of July, for the continuation of the Prosecution case with the expectation that either Duty Counsel or a newly assigned Defence counsel would be present and ready to represent the accused today.
However, subsequently, on the 20th of June 2007, the Office of the Principal Defender and the Prosecutor filed a joint submission in relation to the recommencement of the trial today, amongst others, requesting the Trial Chamber to further postpone the recommencement of the Prosecution case to the 20th of August, 2007. That would be after the Special Court recess.
Now, given the urgency of the request, the Trial Chamber thought it fit to expedite its decision and we issued a written order postponing the continuation of the Prosecution case to Monday, the 20th of August 2007. The following are the reasons:
Both the Prosecution and the Office of the Principal Defender jointly submitted, one, that the Acting Registrar -- sorry, when we adjourned to this day, we ordered, the Trial Chamber ordered, that the Acting Registrar of the Special Court should facilitate the Principal Defender to assemble, by the 31st of July 2007, a Defence team for the accused Charles Ghankay Taylor. The team would comprise one lead counsel, two co-counsel, and one senior investigator at P4 level.
We further ordered that pending the appointment of the above Defence team, the Principal Defender should, in accordance with Article 24(D) of the Directive on the Assignment of Counsel, immediately assign new counsel from his list to represent the accused, or, in the alternative, assign Duty Counsel from the Office of the Principal Defender to represent Mr Taylor in accordance with Article 25(A) of the same directive.
In their joint submission, both the Office of the Principal Defender and the Prosecutor requested the Trial Chamber to further postpone the recommencement of the trial on the grounds that Duty Counsel, who has been assigned to represent the accused in the interim, is not able to effectively do so due to the following reasons:
One, that in view of the short notice that Duty Counsel has had to prepare, coupled with the fact that he has hitherto not been privy to the Prosecution material disclosed to the Defence and has no administrative support in The Hague, he is not in a position to effectively cross-examine the Prosecution witnesses slated to testify between today, the 3rd of July, and the 11th of July.
Secondly, on the grounds that the two expert witnesses slated to testify for the Prosecution during the period in question have been challenged by the former Defence counsel, acting on behalf of the accused, for reasons to which Defence counsel was not privy and is therefore not able to address.
Duty Counsel submitted that for him to purport to represent the accused under those circumstances would amount to a violation of Mr Taylor's fair-trial rights under Article 17(4)(e) of the Statute, which entitles the accused to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him under the same conditions as that of the Prosecution. The Prosecutor completely agreed with Defence counsel in this regard.
Now, after careful reflection, the Trial Chamber is of the view that in the circumstances good cause has been shown for the postponement of this trial. The Chamber agrees that to compel Duty Counsel to represent the accused during this one week, without affording him adequate administrative support or time to prepare, would indeed amount to a violation of Mr Taylor's fair-trial rights in as far as counsel could not be expected to effectively cross-examine the witnesses, Prosecution witnesses, nor effectively challenge the Prosecution evidence.
It will be remembered that the Trial Chamber did, as early as March 2007 and on several occasions after that, warn of unlikely due delay emanating from the failure of the Registry to address and resolve Mr Taylor's representation and investigative requirements in good time before the start of the trial. Thus, while the Chamber generally frowns upon undue delay of these proceedings, we are mindful of our overriding obligation to conduct a fair trial and to guarantee the statutory rights of Mr Taylor, who, in this case, should not be penalised for the laxity of the Registry.
Furthermore, the Trial Chamber is of the view that the alternative proposed by the Prosecutor; namely, that of calling the experts today to give their evidence in-chief and then to postpone their cross-examination until August when a new Defence team is in place, would also not be in the interests of justice or of a fair trial.
It is for all the above reasons that the Trial Chamber agreed to review its earlier order of 25th June 2007 and granted the joint request and postponed this trial to 20th August 2007, when the Prosecution case is then expected to recommence and a new Defence team is expected to be in place and ready to effectively represent the accused without further undue delay.
Those are the reasons accompanying the order that we issued. This order, I think, will be published sometime today, because it has already been signed. But I think it will be published sometime today, or was published sometime last week. It was issued on the 28th. So these are the reasons that I have just read.
Now, there is a second matter related somehow to the reasons that I have just read, and this is the matter that relates to the Principal Defender's application for suspension of time limits in relation to the pleadings that are attached to the pending motions.
The Office of the Principal Defender did, on the 12th of June 2007, file an application requesting the Trial Chamber to suspend the time limits within which the Defence is required to file either a response or a reply with regard to certain motions pending before the Chamber, and the request for suspension was until the issues surrounding Mr Taylor's representation have been sorted out.
On the whole, the Trial Chamber is of the view that the request by the Office of the Principal Defender is a reasonable one and that an extension rather than a suspension of time limits would be in the interests of justice. The Trial Chamber's decision in this regard has been issued also today and should be published shortly. So we have granted the request in a modified form where we have indicated the time extensions that we have given with regard to each pleading and with regard to each motion.
Now, a third issue that I would address the parties on is the request by court management for court to adjust its sitting schedule.
The Trial Chamber recalls that during the Pre-Trial Conference of 7th May 2007, we did, in consultation with the parties and with the representative of the Registry in The Hague, issue a schedule of daily sitting hours. At that time the Trial Chamber received assurances from the Registrar's representative in The Hague that the proposed schedule would not pose any administrative difficulties for the ICC staff rendering support to the Special Court.
Since then, however, it has been drawn to our attention that, for technical reasons, the morning break of 15 minutes that we had proposed is insufficient to enable the ICC staff handling the recording of the proceedings to change their tapes and is also insufficient for the ICC staff handling the movement of witnesses in dealing with their protective measures. The Trial Chamber has thus been requested to extend the 15-minute break by another 15 minutes every morning to 30 minutes. We think that the request is a reasonable and necessary one in the circumstances. Accordingly, the revised sitting times will be as follows:
From Monday to Thursday, this will be the schedule: Court will start at exactly 9:00 a.m. and will sit until 10:30 a.m. for the first session. We will have a 30-minute break from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. We'll resume for the second session at 11:00 and we'll sit through to 1:00 p.m. We'll break for lunch from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then we'll resume for the third -- the afternoon session, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Now, for Friday, which is a half-day sitting in court, the schedule will be exactly as above until the lunch break, and then after the lunch break we will not sit in court but this will be time for counsel and for the Bench for in-house assignments, catching up with our in-house assignments.
The fourth matter that I need to clarify is with regard to the two court recesses under which the Trial Chamber operates.
We operate under two judicial calendars that may not always coincide, namely, that of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and that of the ICC. We wish to clarify that for our sitting times here in court, we are obligated to abide by the ICC judicial calendar whereby we only sit when the ICC court is also sitting and not during their recesses, while, for purposes of court filings, we are bound by the Special Court judicial calendar.
This, in effect, means that whilst we may not be able to sit in court during the ICC judicial recess or other public holidays pertaining to the Netherlands, the parties are free to carry on with their work that is outside of the court, including filing of pleadings, except during the Special Court recess. The converse -- I've been requested -- is the accused waiting to come in? The accused may come in. It's okay.
So as the accused is coming in, let me finish this thought on the judicial calendar. I was going to say that the converse is always true in that while the Special Court is in recess, the parties may not file their pleadings, notwithstanding that the ICC is in session. And this is how the system will work. This is the way that we've tried to balance and work around the two judicial calendars, because our filings are done at the headquarters in Freetown but we find ourselves sitting here for the court proceedings, and we have to find a balance between the two judicial calendars.
I'm informed that the accused is here. Is that correct? Well, bring him in.