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

  • Good morning. We will take appearances first, please.

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

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused not present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.34 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President. Good morning, your Honours. Good morning, counsel opposite. Appearing for the Defence this morning are myself Morris Anyah, Silas Chekera and Michael Herz. Madam President, your Honours will notice the absence of Mr Taylor from court. May I address the Court on that issue?

  • Yes, please.

  • Mr Taylor telephoned me this morning at about 8.41 a.m. and he telephoned to indicate that he might not be in court on time, that he was willing to come to court today but that a circumstance arose at the ICC detention centre regarding his mode of transportation to court to which he objected and that that could cause a delay in his appearance today.

    The circumstance to which he alluded was this, and it has occurred previously, in fact within the last six months: The ICC detention centre personnel typically would move Mr Taylor from his jail cell and hand him over to the Dutch security service responsible for his transportation to the courthouse. They followed the typical practice today. He was handed over. He was handcuffed. He was placed in a vehicle and this is where the problem arose. He was left in that vehicle for, in his estimation, 10 to 15 minutes, while the detention centre personnel went to transport or bring another detainee from upstairs to another waiting vehicle to be transported to the same courthouse.

    Now, this circumstance arose on 12 January this year and I have the transcript before me. It was almost identical to this and Mr Taylor and the other detainees had as of 12 January lodged complaints six months before with the detention centre personnel regarding this particular mode of transportation. They find it to be demeaning and undignified to have somebody handcuffed, sitting in a tinted van, waiting in the past for as long as 30 minutes while another detainee is brought from upstairs merely because it is wished that they be transported in what would be called the same convoy.

    And so this is where we find ourselves today. The accused is willing to come to court. He has given us, the Defence, his consent, that we proceed in his absence, but the manner in which he is being transported to court is, with respect, clearly undignified. We know from everyday experience and indeed human nature that when you permit or condone allowing someone to sit in a van for 10 minutes one day, the next day it adds up to about 30 minutes and before you know it we will have people sitting in vans waiting for 45 minutes.

    Now, I don't know the modalities of the security arrangements and why it is that they cannot transport Mr Taylor at the exact moment when he enters the van and bring him to the courthouse. Maybe they are short of personnel and other facilities, I do not know. But what we do know and what we submit objectively speaking is unnecessary and is disrespectful is to have the accused sit in a van, waiting for several minutes while he is handcuffed.

    Now, Madam President, your Honours spoke about this on January when it happened. 12 January. The relevant page for that transcript is 33239. I don't remember who was presiding then but the President of the Court said at line 11 - the Court expressed its consent that close to an hour, 55 minutes, had been completely wasted because the accused Mr Taylor had been not produced to Court. The Court added this:

    "But in fairness to security, we haven't heard their side of it so we will direct the Acting Registrar through the head of The Hague sub-office to provide a report on exactly what happened this morning and ways to avoid it in the future."

    For us the significant portion is the last sentence, "ways to avoid this in the future."

    I recall from memory that the report was prepared and submitted. I haven't been able to find it in the short period of time since I received this call, but I don't know what suggestions were made by the Registry as to how to avoid this in the future. It keeps repeating itself. We submit on its face it's not acceptable and so, again, we are in the Court's hands as to how to proceed. The client is ready for us to go forward, but your Honours may have to address this issue more vigorously so that it doesn't reoccur. Thank you.

  • Thank you, Mr Anyah, for your submissions. Now, as you know, normally issues that pertain to the detention of the accused or accused persons in the ICC detention centre fall under the purview of the Registrar of the Special Court and the Registrar of the ICC. Any complaints or concerns from the parties, especially from the Defence, regarding the conditions of detention, and in this case transportation of Mr Taylor, should and must be addressed to the Registrar.

    However, in this case I note that the absence of course of Mr Taylor or his coming late to court has a direct impact on the proceedings in the court. For that matter and that matter alone, I am going to direct that the Registrar of the Special Court once again look into this issue of the transportation of the accused and find ways and means of this problem not occurring again, and not interrupting the proceedings, and to address this issue as a matter of urgency.

    Now, having said that, I do take note of your submissions, Mr Anyah, that you have Mr Taylor's permission to proceed in his absence and, hoping that he will come at some stage of the trial, we will proceed in his absence pursuant to Rule 60(B) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

  • Thank you, Madam President.

  • Mr George, good morning. We are going to continue with your evidence this morning, I think in cross-examination again, and I remind you that you are still under your oath to tell the truth. That oath is still binding on you.

    Mr Bangura, please continue.

  • Thank you, Madam President.