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.]

  • Good morning. We'll take appearances, please.

  • Good morning, Madam President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel opposite. For the Prosecution this morning, Ms Brenda J Hollis, Mr Mohamed A Bangura, Ms Maja Dimitrova and myself Ms Kathryn Howarth.

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence today, myself Courtenay Griffiths, with me, Ms Logan Hambrick and Mr Terry Munyard.

    Madam President, before we commence there is a matter which I must bring to the attention of the Court. It may be good news for some if the weather improves, but it will certainly be bad news for the Management Committee. There will be an unavoidable hiatus in the proceedings this week for this reason:

    Yesterday afternoon when we concluded an email from Salim, head of WVS, was brought to my attention and it reads as follows, and it's timed at 3.49 yesterday afternoon:

    "Brussels Air have changed their flight schedule for the month of June. Now there is no flight on Tuesday; only on Mondays and Wednesdays. It was impossible to get" - the succeeding witnesses we were intending to call - "on today's flight not because of tickets but because we had told the witnesses for Tuesday and they could not change. As a result, the earliest those witnesses will arrive in The Hague will be Thursday morning."

    And it would be very difficult after an overnight flight to put those witnesses in the witness box immediately. So it looks as if following the next Defence witness, which is a very short, witness DCT-213, who in chief is unlikely to last more than 30 minutes or so, that there will be an unavoidable gap until the earliest Friday before the other witnesses arrive in The Hague. That is the position.

  • Mr Griffiths, your submissions are noted and we've also noted the fact that this is not something that the Defence or the Court can do anything about.

  • Equally, it's something that WVS had no warning about. They learnt for the first time yesterday, which I find quite extraordinary.

  • It's actually not extraordinary. I think SN Brussels does do that when the seasons change. I'm speaking from experience using that airline. But, nonetheless, we are of the view that we should take things day by day with the current witness and the one after.

  • And if indeed a delay is required, we shall then revisit the issue, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday, as the case may be.

  • Now, I too have a matter that I want to raise with the parties before the witness continues with his testimony, and this relates to the sitting hours that are currently on the schedule. We - a matter was brought to the attention of the judges in the week of the plenary by the Registrar. It was actually a memorandum, I think, or a letter written to her by the Defence where the Defence were seeking a change in sitting hours. This memorandum I think was some time in April. You might recall, Mr Griffiths. And certain sitting hours were proposed by the Defence. The Prosecution did respond to those sitting hours and, of course, the judges have deliberated on the issue and we've come up with a schedule that we think would take care of the concerns from both sides.

    This is a memorandum that the Registrar showed to us or was forwarded to us by the Head of Office, Gregory Townsend, in which the Defence had sought earlier sitting hours and - yes, and I think the Defence has - had sought to finish later in the day. Now, the Prosecution, on the other hand, had said they would like to finish earlier in the day but to sit the whole day Friday, the reason being that they use the time after the end of the day's sitting to prepare for cross-examination, et cetera.

    Now, we were given a copy of this memorandum and we've been thinking about it and deliberating on it. And we've taken into account the need to expedite the trial and to see where in the day we can extend the hearing, and it seems to me that the only time that we could extend the day is at the beginning of the day, such that instead of starting at 9.30, as we've normally done, we start at 9.

    However, we felt that we couldn't extend the day beyond 4.30 where the sitting normally ends because that is the time that the parties need either to consult their client or to prepare for cross-examination for the next day or to prep witnesses. And, indeed, Friday afternoon, we were also of the view that we couldn't sit the whole day Friday because as we've settled in the past, we all need Friday afternoon at least one day in the week we need an afternoon where we can do other work that cannot be done outside of the day, such as deliberating on motions, drafting motions, et cetera.

    So we have come to the decision, this is not going to take effect immediately, we're hoping that this will take effect from Monday next week, that the day will begin - the day's sitting will begin at 9 o'clock in the morning instead of 9.30, from Monday till Friday we will start at 9. However, on Friday we will end - instead of 1.30 we will end at 1 o'clock and this, in effect, gives a total of two sitting hours per week extra, from what we've heard. Now, it may not sound as much, but I think it will go some ways to expediting the trial and the breaks within the sessions remain as before.

    Now, I hope there are no comments. This is not something that we expect to debate. We've decided that this is the way it's going to be. Starting next Monday we will start earlier at 9 o'clock and we'll see how it goes.

  • Mr Griffiths, you probably heard my comment earlier. The Defence seems to be oblivious of any application to change the sitting hours. Am I correct on that?

  • I recall a discussion with the Registrar and with my team, but I personally don't recollect the memo. It may be an oversight by me, but I'm at a bit of a loss at the moment.

  • Ms Hollis, do you recall the memo?

  • Indeed, and it was my impression that it actually came from Mr Griffiths, but certainly I remember the Defence memo and we did respond as to our preference.

  • Yes. Mr Griffiths, it's a simple matter. One could be sent to you by our legal officer just to jog your memory.

  • I'm not disputing, Madam President, but it's just that immediately it just didn't spring to mind.

  • Okay. Now, Mr Witness, good morning.

  • Good morning.

  • Before you continue your testimony this morning, I'm required to remind you of the oath that you took yesterday to tell the truth. That oath is still binding on you today.

    Mr Griffiths, please continue.