Thank you, Mr President. May it please the Court.
In arriving at a sentence in this case, we agree with the Defence that Your Honours should look at the gravity of the crimes and the specific conduct of the accused in relation to those crimes, and we suggest the recommended sentences are properly reflective of both of these factors.
In relation to an assessment of the gravity of crimes of which Mr Taylor has been convicted, we agree with the Defence that such assessment should include the, in our view, massive scale and, in our view, extreme brutality of these crimes, the vulnerability of the victims, and of course the impact on the victims and their relatives, both then and now.
The sentence in this case, we suggest, should not give Mr Taylor a volume discount for these crimes committed on a massive scale but must be reflective of that scale. We are here not because there was a war in Sierra Leone, not because there was an invasion of Sierra Leone, but because of the crimes committed during that war and crimes committed as part of a widespread and, in this case, systemic attack against the civilian population of Sierra Leone.
It is entirely proper then, as Your Honours have made clear, that the gravity of the crime is the primary consideration, the litmus test, in determining an appropriate sentence. That litmus test, in this case, we suggest, supports the sentences recommended by the Prosecution.
Given the unimaginable scale and brutality of the crimes planned and facilitated by Mr Taylor, it is perfectly understandable that the Defence would choose to ignore or downplay the gravity of these crimes, ignore the victims, but Your Honours do not have that luxury. It is instead your obligation to consider the impact of these crimes on those who have suffered from them.
Those who were murdered cannot speak. We have only the survivors who bore witness before you. Some of these brave survivors came to this Court and recounted the nightmare that they and others have lived through. Unforgettable testimony of unspeakable horror. Brave people like the Reverend Tamba Teh, who told us about seeing a group of over 50 bodies decapitated by child soldiers on the orders of an RUF commander. We can only imaging the terror of those in Freetown in January of 1999 during the attack on that city and also those in Freetown and the surrounding area during the retreat from that city which was the successful culmination of the offensive Mr Taylor planned with Sam Bockarie.
But we heard of the terror from survivors and perpetrators who spoke to you of the wave of terror, the burning, the killing, the amputating, and the raping. The gravity, including the scope, brutality, and severe and ongoing impact of these crimes on the multitude of victims and their relatives more than justifies the sentences the Prosecution has recommended.
In regarding to your assessment of Mr Taylor's specific conduct in relation to the crimes of which he has been convicted, the Defence submissions ignore or dispute many of your key findings, findings which fully justify the recommended sentence.
First, in regard to Mr Taylor's role in the attacks in Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, in an Operation most aptly named Operation No Living Thing. Now, of course Mr Taylor's sentence must be considered in light of the gravity, scale and nature of this operation, an offensive which included crimes not only in the city of Freetown but also leading into and out of the capital, including the Western Area, Makeni, and of course, Kono.
In its entirety, this operation was the largest single offensive within the Court's temporal jurisdiction. Mr Taylor's role in the operation and his crimes was direct. Not only did he provide the means for the operation to happen, it was his and Sam Bockarie's planning that allowed it to happen, and the crimes flowed directly from that plan.
In regard to Mr Taylor's role in this operation, the Defence ignores or disputes the following key findings. Your Honours found that the plan for this offensive, for these attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, was made in Monrovia by Charles Taylor and Sam Bockarie. The Defence, however, rejects that finding and argues to you that the plan originated with Sam Bockarie before he left for Monrovia. Your Honours found that it was Charles Taylor who told Sam Bockarie to make this operation fearful. The Defence, however, ignore this finding, instead arguing that they - meaning both Charles Taylor and Sam Bockarie - designed the operation to be fearful.
The Defence arguments at paragraphs 68 et seq that Charles Taylor is less culpable for the planning of Freetown than is Sam Bockarie not only ignore or dispute the findings that Mr Taylor was a co-author of the plan and that it was he who told Sam Bockarie to make the plan fearful and to use all means to get to Freetown, the arguments also ignore or dispute your finding that at the time of this plan, Charles Taylor was well aware of the crimes committed by the AFRC/RUF forces in the course of their military operations and aware that their war strategy was explicitly based on a widespread or systematic campaign of crimes against civilians.
They also ignore your finding that by his instruction to make the operation fearful, which was repeated many times by Sam Bockarie during the course of the Freetown invasion, and by his instruction to use all means, the accused demonstrated his awareness of the substantial likelihood that crimes would be committed in the execution of the plan.
This awareness of the brutal crimes being committed by the AFRC/RUF makes Mr Taylor's co-authorship of the plan and his imperative that it be fearful and to use all means even more egregious. The Defence argument that planning this operation does not warrant punishment for all crimes committed subsequent to the plan, ignores or disputes your finding that the crimes committed during the execution of this plan, including during the retreat from Freetown, resulted directly from the Bockarie/Taylor plan.
Not only does the Defence attempt to downplay your findings in regards to Taylor's role as a planner of that offensive, they also attempt to downplay his role in support of that operation. Your Honours found that Charles Taylor's support was indispensable to the acquisition and transport of materials which was used during this operation, and that this material was critical to the perpetrator's ability to carry out this operation, this most horrific chapter in the ongoing horrific campaign of atrocities.
In addition, as you pointed out, Mr Taylor stayed engaged in the operation as it was carried out. You found that Mr Taylor gave advice to Sam Bockarie and received updates in relation to the progress of the operations in Kono and Freetown and the implementation of their plan. You found that Bockarie was in frequent contact by a radio or satellite phone with Taylor, either directly or through Benjamin Yeaten. You also found that Taylor's subordinates transmitted "448 messages" during the operation. Such was the specific conduct of Charles Taylor in relation to the operation aptly named Operation No Living Thing, specific conduct which warrants the recommended sentences.
Excuse me, Your Honours.
But this was not Mr Taylor's only criminal involvement in the crimes of which he has been convicted. He also played the role of aider and abettor. Mr Taylor's specific conduct in providing indispensable, critical support to the perpetrators of the crimes also warrants the recommended sentences.
The cases cited by the Defence are distinguishable on their facts, including dealing with much shorter periods of criminal involvement and conviction of fewer counts. Interesting to note, the Defence make no similar analysis of sentencing for planning and operation, such as Operation No Living Thing.
This form of liability, aiding and abetting, includes many different levels of involvement and importance to the commission of crimes. So, contrary to the Defence argument, one cannot look only at the broad characterisation of this mode of liability, but we must look at the specific conduct of Charles Taylor, at the unique circumstances of his criminal conduct as aider and abettor. Such an assessment is necessary to fashion an individualised assessment in this case. A review of Mr Taylor's conduct as aider and abettor makes clear his central role in the ability of the perpetrators to commit the crimes charged over such a long period of time on such a scale and throughout Sierra Leone.
We have discussed Mr Taylor's role as aider and abettor in Operation No Living Thing. You found that Mr Taylor aided and abetted the perpetrators in a myriad of ways. It is, perhaps, particularly helpful to look at this broader aiding and abetting, one form of it, the provision of arms and ammunition.
And in that regard you found that the RUF/AFRC, in fact, heavily and frequently relied on the materiel supplied and facilitated by the accused. You found that arms and ammunition provided by or through Mr Taylor were indispensable to the AFRC/RUF military offensives, and that materiel was critical in enabling the operational strategy of the AFRC/RUF.
And what was the operational strategy for which Mr Taylor provided critical support? What did you find in regard to the military offensives for which Mr Taylor provided indispensable support?
Your Honours found that throughout the indictment period, the operational strategy was characterised by a campaign of crimes against the Sierra Leonean civilian population, including all the crimes charged in the indictment against Mr Taylor. You also found that these crimes were inextricably linked to how the RUF and AFRC achieved their political and military objectives.
And as discussed above, Mr Taylor gave all of this indispensable, critical support with full awareness of this campaign of terror, campaign of atrocities being carried out by those he was supporting. You found that as early as 1997, Charles Taylor was informed in detail of the crimes committed during the junta period. And as of August 1997, when he assumed the presidency, he knew of the crimes being committed by those he was supporting. This was Charles Taylor knowing, key, and continual role in the crimes of which he stands convicted - planner of the bloodiest and most vicious chapter of the campaign of atrocity, provider of critical ongoing and diverse support to the perpetrators of that campaign.
As one of the chiefs said in Sierra Leone, "If the roots of a mango tree are cut, the tree will die." Mr Taylor was the root which fed and maintained the RUF and AFRC/RUF alliance. Without him the rebel movement with its attendant crimes would have suffered an earlier death. Mr Taylor's specific conduct warrants the recommended sentences.
In arriving at a sentence, of course, we are all fully aware that the Special Court's Statute requires that a quantitative sentence be adjudged, not a qualitative one; thus, the Trial Chamber must adjudge a specified number of years of imprisonment. However, there is no limitation placed on the number of years of imprisonment that may be imposed. That is for Your Honours to decide, taking into account the factors listed in Article 19 of the Statute and the factors listed in the Court Rules.
It is helpful to recall that the Statute gives a Trial Chamber the discretion to consider, as it determines appropriate, the sentencing practices of the ICTR and the national courts of Sierra Leone. The Special Court allows this as a matter of discretion of the Trial Chamber, and this is the framework in which the Prosecution submitted its sentencing recommendations.
There is no mathematical scheme of punishment established for the Special Court, but you may, of course, look to other sentences that have been adjudged in the Special Court. And we suggest to you that the recommended sentences in this case are appropriate because Charles Taylor's involvement in the criminal campaign in Sierra Leone was more pervasive than that of the most senior leaders of the AFRC and RUF whose convictions and sentences are now final.
In this regard, it is appropriate to look for a moment at the Defence arguments that all the weight for the atrocities in Sierra Leone is being put solely on Mr Taylor's shoulders and that Prosecution is providing the people of Sierra Leone with an external bogeyman. These arguments are without merit. They ignore the trials, convictions, and sentences adjudged against the Sierra Leonean leaders of the three main Sierra Leonean factions: The CDF, the RUF, and the AFRC. They also ignore the reality that those convicted in those trials were sentenced to a total of 297 years in prison.
Sierra Leoneans know well who in their country bear greatest responsibility for the crimes against them, just as they know that Mr Taylor is among those who bear greatest responsibility for those crimes.
Issa Sesay was rightly sentenced to 52 years for his role in the horrific campaign of atrocities waged against the people of Sierra Leone. He was not convicted of any crimes arising from the attack on Freetown and the Western Area in January 1999, nor the crimes arising from the retreat from that attack. He was not found to have planned that attack. He was not found to have given the imperative that the attack be fearful or to use all means to get to Freetown.
Alex Tamba Brima was rightly sentenced to 50 years for his role in the campaign of atrocities. Brima's convictions for crimes in Freetown and the Western Area fall squarely within the Bockarie/Taylor plan which he adopted after he took command, a plan which resulted directly in the commission of the charged crimes. The orders that he gave for the vicious crimes committed in Freetown and the Western Area were consistent with the Bockarie/Taylor plan and with the imperatives Charles Taylor gave to make the operation fearful and to use all means to get to Freetown.
Mr Taylor's broader criminal involvement in the ongoing campaign of atrocities in Sierra Leone, his critical role in the entire campaign of atrocities committed against the civilian population of Sierra Leone, is deserving of a lengthier punishment.
It would also be appropriate for Your Honours to consider the possibility that Mr Taylor may be granted early release when you determine what constitutes an appropriate sentence in this case.
The Defence have erroneously cited to the Nikolic case, an ICTY case, as support for their argument that it would be improper for you to take this into account, but the Nikolic case establishes just the opposite. It establishes that you may take this possibility into account. The Nikolic case simply states that you may not give undue weight to this possibility. The Nikolic case also establishes that Your Honours may determine what you consider to be the minimum term of imprisonment Mr Taylor should serve when adjudging an appropriate sentence. And other Chambers have also held it is legitimate for a Trial Chamber to recommend a minimum sentence to be served by an accused before any commutation or reduction of sentence is considered.
The Prosecution agrees that the timed served by Mr Taylor in detention after his transfer to the custody of the Special Court would count toward any sentence of imprisonment that might be adjudged. However, Mr Taylor is not entitled to nor should he receive credit for any of the time spent in Calabar, Nigeria.
Evidence of the accused himself and other evidence contradicts the current Defence claim that Mr Taylor was under de facto house arrest in Nigeria. At paragraph 3 of Annex U attached to the Defence sentencing brief, Mr Taylor makes plain that in Calabar he was not under house arrest. This is consistent with his testimony before Your Honours. When he told you that President Obasanjo said that he, Mr Taylor, could go to where he wanted to go, that he not in prison, that he was permitted to visit friends. And, of course, we cannot forget that, by his testimony, Mr Taylor was arrested in March of 2006 after driving across the breadth of Nigeria supposedly on the way to a weekend visit in another country. These are not the actions of a man under house arrest. The Defence has not established that there was a de facto house arrest, and even had they established such a status, it was not at the order or request of this Court and should not be considered by Your Honours.
The Defence has submitted several alleged mitigating factors, none of them warrant reduction in sentence. As discussed in our sentencing submissions, even were the alleged mitigating circumstances to be proven by a balance of probabilities, Mr Taylor would not be automatically entitled to credit and you could impose a severe sentence where we suggest, as here, the gravity of the offences so require.
In addition, were any mitigation proven, the aggravating circumstances in this case negate any mitigating circumstances. However, we suggest to you that the Defence has not met the burden to establish any mitigating factors by a balance of probabilities.
The first mitigation factor, Mr Taylor's supposed contribution to peace in Sierra Leone, is without merit. The Defence argument that the Prosecution is downplaying Mr Taylor's role in the peace process ignores or disputes your findings that Mr Taylor acted as a two-headed Janus, publicly espousing peace while clandestinely undermining it by secretly fueling hostilities in Sierra Leone by urging the rebels not to disarm and actively providing them with arms and ammunition. The argument also ignores your finding that while publicly promoting peace in Lome, he was privately providing arms and ammunition to the RUF, again fundamentally undermining the peace process itself.
Mr Taylor should be given no credit for acting as a two-headed Janus.
Mr Taylor's alleged voluntary resignation from office and his departure from Liberia in order to foster peace is worthy of no mitigation. Again, the Defence have not met their burden here. The balance of probabilities on the evidence is that Charles Taylor stepped down for several reasons, none of them to foster peace.
First of all, he stepped down to avoid arrest, as the Defence discusses in paragraph 142 of their brief. Also he only stepped down after his attempt to import a final shipment of arms and ammunition failed. In addition, he left to avoid capture, torture, and death. The LURD was at his door. He knew what had happened to President Tolbert, to Master Sergeant Doe, and he did not want to face a similar fate. And finally, he left because African leaders took the initiative to convince him to resign, as stated by then president of Ghana, John Kufuor. And that is found at Exhibit D408, page 13.
Mr Taylor's alleged lengthy public service to his country is also not worthy of mitigation. Their argument relies on the case Renzaho and that case is distinguishable. Here, Mr Taylor's convictions are for crimes committed against civilians in Sierra Leone, not in Liberia where he lived and served and worked as president. Thus, his alleged acts of good character and lengthy leadership in Liberia, even if true, bear no relevance and have no positive impact on the lives of his victims in Sierra Leone. On this basis alone, this alleged mitigation should be rejected.
But these arguments also ignore that Mr Taylor used Liberian security forces as conduits in his links with the RUF and AFRC forces, using them to take arms back and forth and to bring diamonds to him. It also ignores that Mr Taylor provided the RUF with a guesthouse, providing communications equipment, security, and domestic staff in Monrovia, a guesthouse from which he sent arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone and that he used to obtain diamonds from Sierra Leone.
These assertions also ignore evidence of Mr Taylor's exploitive and despotic rule in Liberia, including Prosecution Exhibits 449 and 450, showing that the Carter Centre closed its office in Monrovia, publicly criticising Mr Taylor's government for no longer sharing the goals of a democratic society, citing to reports of serious human rights abuses, the use of funds for extra budgetary purposes, the intimidation of journalists and others in Liberia, and criticising Liberia's role in the sub-region as a destructive one.
The assertion that Mr Taylor and his Defence counsel's co-operation with the Prosecution and the Court, even if marginal, should be considered as mitigation is similarly without merit. Rule 101(b) addresses the substantial, not marginal, co-operation of an accused with the Prosecutor, and certainly no such co-operation was present in this case. There was no co-operation that significantly shortened the trial proceedings in this case. And the argument also ignores the boycotts of the proceedings, the outburst in court by Defence counsel. All of these delaying the proceedings and disrupting them.
The Defence also asks for a reduced sentence for the alleged sincere sympathy expressed toward the victims of crimes. But what the Defence argument really shows is that Mr Taylor's only real regret is that Your Honours saw through his well-practiced denials and efforts to portray himself as a peacemaker concerned with those in the conflagration, when, in truth, he was the person continually fueling the fire.
Mr Taylor's lack of a prior criminal record is of little significance or weight considering the gravity of the crimes committed. And you must also ask yourself, as leader of the NPFL, who was in a real position of authority and power to prosecute Mr Taylor for crimes? When he was the president of Liberia, who was in a real position of power or authority to prosecute Mr Taylor for crimes? And we must remember that just before Mr Taylor left office in August of 2003, his legislature granted amnesty from civil and criminal proceedings to all parties that fought in Liberia's civil wars, covering acts all the way back to December 1989, thus shielding Mr Taylor from prosecution.
His lack of a proper -- of a prior criminal record, even if established, does not mitigate his guilt or the appropriate sentence.
The claim of extraordinarily good behaviour in detention ignores that he misused his privileged telephone communications while in detention, and that on a number of occasions he refused to leave his cell because he did not like conditions of detention or conditions of transport, resulting in adjournments and lost trial time.
In relation to age and ill health. The age of an accused in no way bars the imposition of a very high sentence. In fact, the Cambodian Court supreme Court Chamber recently quashed the 35-year term imposed by the Trial Chamber on accused Duch and sentenced Duch to life imprisonment. This despite the fact Duch was older that Mr Taylor at the time of sentencing.
This and other courts have considered ill health in mitigation only in exceptional circumstances and there is no proof of such exceptional circumstances here. There is no proof that Mr Taylor is in a physical condition that may be determined overall as ill health. Certainly the Prosecution has seen no medical report that would substantiate this alleged ill health.
Similarly, if we look at the alleged mitigating factors that Mr Taylor is married, with children, and look at his social, professional, and family background, these factors warrant no reduction in sentence. Chambers have declined to consider an accused's family situation or the fact that he is the father of young children in mitigation, or have given it limited or no weight in view of the gravity of the offences.
Similarly, the Trial Chamber should not give Mr Taylor any discount in sentence on account of his social, professional, and family background. If anything, Mr Taylor's social and professional background aggravates rather than mitigates, and supports the imposition of the recommended punishment.
Mr Taylor is a mature, well-educated, intelligent man, to whom life has gifted many opportunities. Instead of using those opportunities for good, he chose of his own volition to follow a path of abject greed and criminality. There should also be no mitigation given on the speculation as to where Mr Taylor would serve any imprisonment.
As Judge Itoe noted during the RUF sentencing hearing, where an accused is to serve a sentence is speculation and not appropriate for argument during a sentencing proceedings. Also, the Defence argument ignores the fact that Mr Taylor has lived and travelled extensively abroad and that he is fluent in English, which is the language of the United Kingdom, should he be imprisoned there. It also ignores that there is no showing that his family are all located in Liberia. Indeed, the opposite is more likely true. Nor is there any showing that he and his family do not have the means for visits to him regardless of where he might be imprisoned should there be a sentence of imprisonment adjudged.
There is no mitigation in this case to warrant a reduced sentence.
The alleged prejudicial Prosecution strategy is without merit and warrants no reduction in sentence. The arguments advanced by the Defence are deserving of no weight. The allegation that the indictment was unsubstantiated and overreaching ignores that Mr Taylor was convicted of all 11 counts in the indictment, and it also ignores that the original and amended indictments were reviewed and approved by a Judge of the Special Court, and that again, on subsequent review pursuant to Rule 98, no part of the indictment was dismissed.
Your Honour's findings that the Prosecution failed to prove some elements of some modes of liability does not equate to an overreaching, unsubstantiated indictment. There is no support for the allegations of ill motive on the part of the Prosecution. There is nothing improper in taking actions to lawfully transfer an indictee to the custody of the Special Court.
In regard to these and other accusations in the Defence brief, it is most unfortunate that the Defence has once again resorted to emotive attacks on the professionalism and integrity of the Prosecution team.
The sentencing process would have been better served if the Defence had instead focussed its attention on accurately reflecting the findings and facts of this case. But just to be absolutely clear, the Prosecution objects and denies all of these Defence attacks. They are unfounded attempts to redirect attention from the findings of the Trial Chamber and to relitigate matters that were fully before Your Honours.
The arguments of the Defence regarding the alleged sentiments of the Liberian people are also worthy of no consideration. The victims of the crimes of which Mr Taylor were convicted are Sierra Leoneans, not Liberians. Also, there is no way to judge how reflective these supposed sentiments are of the Liberian population as a whole or in general. No way to judge whether the Defence submissions are only those of people who benefitted from Charles Taylor financially, politically, by being able to take who and what they wanted and behave as they wished while he was their leader.
In regard to the information in the Defence annexes, the Trial Chamber, of course, is free to consider character references if they are worthy of credibility, but we suggest that any of the Defence submissions that go to the acts and conduct of the accused are inappropriate for consideration at this time, and we suggest in that regard that Your Honours look very carefully at the information provided in Annexes G, J, and U.
We also ask Your Honours to consider that this is untested information. There has been no opportunity to cross-examine untruthfulness or accuracy. For example, were the materials submitted by individuals prepared before the Defence even talked to the person, as was the case with DCT-213, where the Defence had already drawn up the Affidavit and had it ready to sign before they even contacted her.
Further, in regard to the letter from Victoria "Mother" Young regarding orphans, we've had no opportunity to ask her if these orphans were simply held for Mr Taylor's use as child soldiers or as forced labour, to explore with her whether these children were actually held for child trafficking. The untested information in the Defence annexes is deserving of little or no weight.
The Prosecution's recommendations as to sentence are appropriate for the two primary goals or objectives of sentencing in international criminal tribunals. These two goals were recognised by this Court's Appeals Chamber in the CDF Appeals Judgement at paragraph 532: The primary goals must be retribution and deterrence. As Your Honours stated at paragraph 17 of your AFRC Sentencing Judgement: International criminal tribunals have noted that rehabilitation cannot be considered as a predominant consideration in determining a sentence in international criminal courts. To the extent rehabilitation is a goal of sentencing in this Court, albeit not a predominant one, Mr Taylor is not a candidate.
At the time of his planning and aiding and abetting these horrific crimes, Mr Taylor was a mature, highly educated man who had been in positions of leadership and influence for most of his professional life, and a man with this background chose to play a critical role in the commission of the crimes of which he has been convicted. A man with this background who chose to act the two-headed Janus, to fuel the flames of conflict. A man with this background who knowingly planned the attacks against Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, who knowingly provided sustained and significant support for the horrific campaign of atrocities against the civilian population of Sierra Leone.
In conclusion, Your Honours, the Prosecution's recommended sentences are consistent with the primary sentencing goals in international courts. They are properly reflective of the extreme gravity of these crimes and of Mr Taylor's specific conduct in regard to these crimes, his central and vital role in the entire campaign of atrocities, in particular in the most vicious episode of this ongoing campaign, the late 1998 and early 1999 operation against Kono, Makeni, and Freetown.
The recommendations are also reflective of the absence of any mitigating factors that would warrant any significant reduction of sentence.
And the Prosecution recommendations would truly promote an end to impunity and would bring true reconciliation by giving a measure of justice and accountability to the victims of the multitude of crimes committed against them.
Thank you, Your Honours.