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

  • Good morning. I note the accused is not present in court. I will take appearances and then ask for the report as directed yesterday. Appearances, Ms Hollis, please?

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, opposing counsel. Brenda J Hollis, Nicholas Koumjian and Maja Dimitrova appear this morning for the Prosecution.

  • Thank you. Mr Griffiths?

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, opposing counsel. For the Defence today are myself Courtenay Griffiths, my learned friend Mr Morris Anyah and Mr Silas Chekera.

  • And I am correct in noting that your client is not present, Mr Griffiths?

  • Thank you. I note, Mr Townsend, that you are here in court. If you could please inform us of the outcome of the directions yesterday. Mr Griffiths, were you on your feet or are you - I inadvertently did not --

  • Your Honour, it may be of greater assistance if I could address your Honour for a moment on two pressing problems that we have on the Defence side of the Court today.

    First of all, Mr Taylor is not present today. When we rose yesterday, I went to visit him at the detention facility and at that meeting he continued to express his concerns at the new security regime which had been imposed. I thereafter liaised with Mr Townsend regarding his contact with those responsible for Mr Taylor's detention and he informed me very helpfully that, despite him speaking to various individuals within the hierarchy of the detention facility, they were totally unprepared to budge in terms of demonstrating any flexibility towards the transport regime for Mr Taylor.

    At or about 20 past nine this morning, I received a call from Mr Taylor. He continued to express his disgust at the prospect of having to travel to court under such conditions. However, because of his anxiety that the trial should continue uninterrupted, he tells me that he would be willing to attend court tomorrow, despite the continuation of that regime, so long as attention is given to seeking to remove those conditions at some time in the future.

    But we have a further difficulty today, your Honours, and it's this. Mr Munyard telephoned me at 7.30 this morning to inform me that he was suffering - he'd been suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting all night and felt unable to attend court this morning.

    Now your Honours will be aware that Mr Munyard has charge of the current witness and so that poses a major difficulty for the Defence so that, even if your Honours were minded in the absence of Mr Taylor as you were invited to yesterday by my learned friend Ms Hollis to continue in the accused's absence, it does create a major difficulty for the Defence in that all preparation for this particular witness has been carried out by Mr Munyard. He's ready and prepared to cross-examine the witness, but unfortunately due to his current disposition is unable to be in court and so there is that further difficulty that we face today and I apologise for that. So that is the current situation, your Honours.

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused not present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.]

  • Thank you. That's most helpful, Mr Griffiths. Allow me to confer before I invite replies.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

    I will seek Mr Townsend's report before I invite your reply, Ms Hollis, as it may be more helpful to do it that way. Mr Townsend, you are aware of yesterday's directive. Please advise us.

  • May it please the Trial Chamber, in compliance with yesterday's order I have submitted a written report and I'm happy to circulate that time - circulate that report at this time if you'd like, your Honours, and I can also just make some brief oral submissions and you can review it later. I also have in my possession the Special Court absence from court form for today which indicates that Mr Taylor declined to come to court today and that his lawyers would handle it, I think that's the language used on the form, and both those items could be put into the record at least.

  • If you can please at least give us an outline or the highlight of the report.

  • Indeed, your Honours. I spoke yesterday at great length with various representatives of the Dutch transport and support service, what's known by the Dutch acronym DV&O, about the two objections that Mr Taylor has to particular procedures of his high security or maximum security transport. Now, this is a gratis service provided to the Special Court by the government of the Netherlands and the Special Court is obliged to rely on the DV&O for the transport of Mr Taylor to and from the court. Now, depending on a recent risk assessment from another entity of the Department of Justice, DV&O upgraded Mr Taylor's security transport to a maximum level and on approximately 12 August this information was conveyed to the ICC and then subsequently to Mr Taylor and the court representatives.

    Now this risk assessment was increased based on grounded and material security concerns, the details of which I'm not at liberty to discuss in open court. This reinstitution of maximum level security was not singled out for Mr Taylor, but one other ICC detainee has been placed under that regime effective also yesterday and one ICTY detainee is under the same regime presently as well.

    Now this - it's the Registry's understanding that this change in security is not attributable to any alleged misconduct by Mr Taylor while in custody, but rather this is just reflective of a change in security situation on the ground.

    In the report, which I'll submit to the parties and the Trial Chamber, the DV&O outlined several standard operating procedures, some of which they've been able to exempt Mr Taylor from, but the two to which the Defence object they say are not subject to negotiation and they are security related concerns. Some of these relate to tactical and operational aspects of the high or maximum security transport.

    To date there has been no complaint from Mr Taylor under rule 59 of the rules of detention, namely that procedure as mentioned by the Court on 18 July 2008 that obliges a detainee if having a complaint against detention - and it's our submission that transport relates to detention - that that complaint would be first properly lodged with Mr Ray Cardinal, the chief of detention in Freetown. If the detainee sought a remedy against that it would go to the Registrar and that could be appealed next to the President, as opposed to bringing such a complaint directly to the Trial Chamber.

    As I mentioned, we have both yesterday and today's absence from court forms. Yesterday we also viewed the vehicle in which the maximum security transport is conducted to have a better first-hand understanding of these tactical and operational aspects to which the Defence have at least one of their objections. At the highest levels of the DV&O they have again expressed their inability to waive these procedures for Mr Taylor in light of the recent upgrading of the security, and on that basis I'd submit and I'd suggest that the report fleshes this out in greater detail, your Honours.

  • Sorry, I didn't quite understand what you mean.

  • There are greater details to what I have submitted orally in the written report, your Honours, and I suggest due to the confidential nature it's best to have those matters reviewed in a written format, rather than hear me orally.

  • Has this report been circulated to the parties, Mr Townsend?

  • Not as of yet. It was just completed for court this morning. I would like the opportunity to indeed circulate it.

  • And you've heard Mr Griffiths's remark that - I'm just looking at my notes - Mr Taylor has indicated if the conditions would be removed in the near future. Have you had any indication how long this regime is likely to last?

  • The placement of maximum security transport for Mr Taylor is of a duration that only the Dutch security will know and not release publicly, so I'm not in a position to know that and we don't have that information. We know that it was previously removed when a subsequent risk assessment was conducted and that risk went down. We do appreciate and we are grateful to Mr Taylor's willingness to attend court tomorrow, and I understand Mr Griffiths's prayer is stating that that attendance in court would be conditioned on further efforts by the Registry to seek to remove the objectionable procedures and I would represent that I would so endeavour and we wish Mr Munyard a speedy recovery.

  • Thank you.

  • Mr Townsend, you said that the risk assessment was increased based on grounded and material security concerns, details of which you are not at liberty to discuss in open court. Do I take it that you can discuss these details in closed session?

  • Only in camera, your Honours, and not in open - closed session.

  • What do you mean in camera? In chambers?

  • Exactly, your Honours.

  • So you've been made privy to the reasons behind all of this, of which the Court knows nothing, and you're able to tell the Court if you come to our chambers, is that right?

  • That's exactly correct, your Honours.

  • Mr Townsend, are these reasons contained in your written report?

  • They're not spelled out, your Honours. This report is for consumption of all the parties.

  • Look, I don't know what's going on here, or why the security arrangements for transport have been upgraded. From your talks with the people concerned was it apparent to you that at least Mr Taylor knows why he's being treated like this?

  • I can tell you again that I believe around 12 August, as soon as that decision was made, that the upgrading of the security was communicated to Mr Taylor by the ICC detention staff. Now, the actual basis is never conveyed to any detainee because these are confidential security considerations on the highest levels of Dutch security.

  • In effect you are saying the decision was conveyed to him, but not the reasons.

  • That's exactly correct.

  • Just to get this clear, Mr Townsend, you now have the reasons and you're prepared to tell the Court that in chambers. Is that correct?

  • Yes, your Honour. I have two bases I've been told on a confidential basis that underlie the upgrading of the high security transport. Again they don't relate to Mr Taylor specifically, but to rather security on the ground and the same imposition of high security has been in position for one ICC detainee and one ICTY detainee. This is the normal procedure and protocol for the Dutch maximum security transport agency, the DV&O.

  • Your Honour, I wonder if I might intervene at this stage hopefully helpfully to suggest this. It seems to us on this side of the court that the Court should be armed with all relevant information in order to make an informed decision with regard to this and, as far as we're concerned on this side of the court, we're perfectly happy for Mr Townsend to communicate to your Honours, absent the other parties, the reasons so that at least then your Honours will be armed with the overall situation and be in a better position to arrive at a judicious decision in this matter.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths. That's most helpful. Ms Hollis, you've heard both the oral report and Mr Griffiths's various submissions. Your reply?

  • Thank you, Madam President. The Prosecution would not only be happy for this to happen, we would encourage it, that you be given the information in chambers. We don't believe that this is a matter pertaining to the trial so that full disclosure is not required, and in many instances we believe the withholding of such disclosure would be prudent and necessary when dealing with risk assessments and perhaps the basis for those assessments and so we believe that would be a perfectly appropriate vehicle for use.

    We do reiterate our position that the accused's voluntary absence should not prevent the trial from moving forward. We also understand that Mr Munyard was the counsel, or is the counsel, who will be conducting this cross-examination, and in his absence we could not go forward and we do believe that it is most efficient if we do deal with the cross-examination of this witness before moving on to other witnesses. So because of Mr Munyard's absence we would say that we would not be able to move forward today, but again our position would be that as soon as Mr Munyard is able to be in court and conduct the cross-examination we move forward even if the accused continues to refuse to attend.

  • Your Honour, on that last point can I just make this suggestion again hopefully helpfully. Mr Taylor having indicated his willingness to attend court tomorrow despite the continuation of this regime, we are anxious that we don't waste time. If he is willing to subject himself to those restraints and come to court, we're anxious that we do use the available time.

    Now there is uncertainty as to how quickly Mr Munyard will recover, so can I suggest that in light of my learned friend's comment that the next witness be made available tomorrow to be called in-chief if necessary so that we can make use of the available time. I don't know whether that poses logistical difficulties for the Prosecution, but I'm merely anxious in making this suggestion that we make best use of the time available.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths.

  • Your Honours, if I can just say that would pose no logistical difficulties and, if your Honours are inclined to do that, we would ask that that examination be interrupted when Mr Munyard is available to cross-examine this witness who is scheduled to be recalled for cross-examination.

  • Thank you. That's most helpful, counsel. I will now confer with my colleagues.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

    We will retire to confer and to take the information that Mr Townsend is ready to give us in chambers and we will resume court as soon as is practical. You will be notified. Please adjourn court until then. In the meantime the report will be circulated, Mr Townsend, of course.

  • [Break taken at 9.50 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 11.15 a.m.]

  • We have considered the confidential report made on behalf of the Registrar, the submissions of the parties and the confidential information provided to us in chambers. In the light of these considerations, the Trial Chamber is still not satisfied that there is any rational basis or justification for Mr Taylor being subjected to the increased security measures. We register our concern that if this situation is not resolved it could result in serious disruption of the trial. Accordingly, we direct the Registrar to continue to investigate a speedy resolution of the situation and direct that he reports to us by 9.30 a.m. on 25 August, that is Monday, on what he has achieved. We note the advice of Defence counsel that Mr Taylor will be in attendance at court tomorrow, but has indicated that his continued attendance is conditional upon the security measures complained of being removed.

    We therefore adjourn the case to tomorrow at 9.30. We note that Mr Munyard is ill and that the Prosecution is prepared to proceed with another witness if Mr Munyard is still unable to attend. We adjourn the case.

    Please adjourn the case until 9.30 tomorrow.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 11.17 a.m. to be reconvened on Wednesday, 20 August 2008 at 9.30 a.m.]