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

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

  • Good morning, Madam President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel opposite. For the Prosecution this morning, Mohamed A Bangura, Maja Dimitrova, and Nicholas Koumjian.

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence today myself, Courtenay Griffiths, with me Mr Morris Anyah, counsel, and we're joined today by Ms Haydee Dijkstal, a legal assistant with our team.

    Madam President, this morning, just before 9 o'clock, I received a telephone call from WVS informing me that the witness is feeling unwell. Apparently he's been unwell for a while but has been able to continue with his testimony despite the pain that he is in. He has an ongoing medical problem which does cause him some discomfort and difficulty. Of course I've been unable to speak to him and consequently have not had an opportunity of assessing the situation for myself or to make the obvious inquiry whether, for example, he might be able to continue to give testimony if, for example, he were to be afforded by your Honours regular breaks. So I've had no opportunity whatsoever to discuss the matter with him.

    I'm told just before Court commenced by WVS that, given his medical condition, they made an appointment for him to see a doctor at 3 o'clock this afternoon. My first initial application then is for a very short adjournment so that I could have an opportunity of discussing with the witness the extent of his discomfort and illness and whether there are other options available short of a request at this stage that we adjourn until he feels better.

    Of course, it would be appropriate I think in the circumstances for someone from WVS, say, to be present whilst I speak to him because they are already alerted to his medical condition, so it shouldn't cause any embarrassment to anyone. So that my initial application then is for a 15-minute adjournment to speak to him so that I would be in a better position to address the various options which might be available with your Honours.

  • Right. In the event that we were inclined to let the witness have a break, is the Defence ready to interpose another witness?

  • No, we're not.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Mr Koumjian, what are your views on this application?

  • Your Honour, in my view, although I don't object to the procedure proposed, I think it's more efficient, instead of counsel talking to the witness with WVS then relaying the information, for the Court to speak directly to the witness and get the information now from the witness without any possibility of a third party possible miscommunication or your Honours can ask the questions directly to the witness.

  • Mr Griffiths?

  • I'm anxious to avoid any embarrassment to the witness. That's why I proposed the procedure.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Mr Griffiths, we are minded to grant you the short adjournment you've requested, but we would direct that when you are speaking with the witness and WVS, the Prosecution would have a representative present, if you don't mind.

  • I have no difficulty with that.

  • Just to rule out any impropriety. I'm not suggesting that there will be any but just to rule out any suspicions.

    Mr Koumjian, would that sit well with you?

  • Yes, that's very reasonable. Thank you.

  • Right. We will adjourn for 15 minutes and return at five minutes to 10.

  • [Break taken at 9.38 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 9.56 a.m.]

  • [In the absence of the witness]

  • Mr Griffiths, we are in open session and the witness is absent.

  • And I'll explain why that is. Through our discussions with Mr Bangura present with WVS and the witness we were able to get an earlier appointment with the doctor at 10 o'clock.

    The difficulty is this: The witness was prescribed painkillers for his two long-standing medical conditions in West Africa but those painkillers ran out yesterday. Unfortunately an attempt was made to obtain the same prescription from a doctor here in Holland but that doctor was only willing to prescribe him paracetamol for the pain he suffered. The paracetamol has no effect. So we're hoping that by him attending at the doctor's this morning at 10 o'clock he will be able to replicate the prescription he had in West Africa. We're told by the witness that those painkillers take an hour or so to take effect and we're hopeful, following those discussions, that we should be able to resume at or about noon today.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths. Mr Koumjian, there is an application for an adjournment until 12 noon.

  • Your Honour, we have no observations. We put it in the Court's hands.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • In the circumstances I don't think we have much choice than to adjourn until 12 noon. However, before we adjourn I wanted to put to the parties another administrative matter that has arisen, and this is with regard to the sitting schedules for the next two weeks which, as you know, are not always cast in stone these days and are liable to change every now and then.

    Now, the first week I want us to look at is the week of 15 to 19 March. I don't know if you have your schedules with you, but we have been requested - we've been told that we cannot sit on Monday afternoon, that's Monday 15 March. The original schedule that was published showed that we would sit on Monday afternoon from 3 o'clock until 7.30. Now that is no longer possible because the ICC requires this courtroom in the afternoon. Instead, they have offered that we take the Monday morning for the hearing. We are mindful that you may have made arrangements based on the old schedule and that is why we want to hear from the parties. That is one.

    Now, the rest of the week remains as follows: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, that is 16, 17 and 18 March, we are scheduled to sit afternoons only. That is from 3 o'clock until 7.30 every day and that hasn't changed. However, the change comes in on Friday where we were scheduled not to sit or that the schedule was for other hearings - other ICC hearings. We are now told that the courtroom is available and we have the option to sit full day or half day.

    I would like to hear from the parties regarding that week before I tell you about the following week. Perhaps I should hear from the Defence first, since you are the ones conducting your case.

  • Just so that I'm clear, Madam President, the proposal is that we sit on Monday morning from what time? From 9 o'clock until 1.30?

  • And then on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we would be sitting from 3 o'clock until 7.30.

  • With the option of sitting all day on the Friday.

  • For my part, I don't know if this suggestion would appeal to your Honours, the possibility of sitting all day Friday and not sitting on the Monday at all.

  • Okay. Mr Koumjian?

  • Your Honour, I have no observations. I did happen to just make an appointment for 10.30 on Monday but it's something I can easily change. As I'm telling everyone these days, my schedule is always subject to change at the last moment.

  • I can say amen to that. So the new schedule is that we will not sit on Monday 15 March at all and instead we will sit a full day Friday the 19th as proposed by the Defence.

    The following week was scheduled - as you can see probably from your schedules, we were scheduled to sit mornings throughout the week and now we have the option to sit on Friday the 26th, to sit a full day also. So that gives us a few extra hours that week. I would like to hear from the parties, starting with the Defence.

  • I don't foresee any problems from our point of view sitting all day on the Friday.

  • Thank you. Mr Koumjian.

  • Yes, we would be in favour of using that time. Thank you.

  • Okay. So the schedule is changed accordingly in that on Friday 26 March we will sit a full day. We will have the head of office publish a new schedule for the weeks running up to the recess.

    We will adjourn these proceedings until 12 noon.

  • Madam President, before we rise I wonder if a member of Chambers will be available to liaise with us, because I will remain in contact with WVS to see what progress we make so that if there's a possibility of an earlier start, we can take advantage of that.

  • That's not a bad idea at all, and indeed a member of Chambers will remain in touch with you. Court is adjourned.

  • [Break taken at 10.06 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • [In the presence of the witness]

  • Madam President, your Honours, I am told that the witness has been declared fit to continue his testimony.

  • Thank you. I'm going to remind the witness of his oath and then I think we were in private session before, if you would like to continue.

    Mr Witness, I hope you are feeling better and I'm just reminding you of your oath to tell the truth.