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

  • Good morning. We will take appearances, please.

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, opposing counsel. This morning for the Prosecution, Brenda J Hollis, Mohamed A Bangura, and we are joined by our case manager, Maja Dimitrova.

  • [Open session]

  • [The accused present]

  • [Upon commencing at 9.00 a.m.]

  • Good morning, Madam President, your Honours, counsel opposite. For the Defence today myself, Courtenay Griffiths, with me Mr Morris Anyah and Mr Munyard of counsel, and we are joined today by Mr Hawi Alot, who joins us from Kenya on an internship.

  • Mr Alot is welcomed to the Court.

  • Now, Madam President, I remain on my feet for this reason: Firstly, to apologise for my absence on Friday due to my miscalculation as to how long it would take my learned friend to conclude her cross-examination, and I apologise to the Court for that; but secondly, I remain on my feet to make an application for an adjournment and it is in these terms:

    Mr Taylor's evidence, as we are all aware, has lasted a considerable period of time. During the course of his cross-examination he has indicated on a number of occasions that there are matters he would like to address in re-examination. I, as his lead counsel, have deliberately refrained from discussing these issues with him during the course of his cross-examination, primarily because of the Court's injunction that he should not discuss his testimony with anyone, and also because of our concern that it might be suggested that he was being rehearsed during the course of his cross-examination.

    Now, he has indicated to me that he has a list of topics he would like to raise. I do not know, not having discussed with him those topics, the merits of the issues he would like to address, but it seems to us that he should have an opportunity to discuss those matters with me. In our submission it's in everybody's interest that that should take place: Firstly, in order to narrow the scope of any such issues; secondly, to ensure that it cannot later be said - and I say this quite bluntly - that he did not have ample opportunity to set out his case before this Court.

    Now, yesterday - and this is the second point I make in this regard - I spent a considerable period of time in the office with my case manager putting together a bundle of materials for re-examination. I can state at the outset that there is no fresh material contained in it. I have merely extracted from materials already referred to by both parties during the course of Mr Taylor's testimony, and I have done that for this reason: Firstly, by putting together - and I have here what may be the proposed bundle - it will not require us to refer to various lever arch files - I know that I have some 20 lever arch files underneath the table here - with the difficulties involved in locating the particular document we seek to refer to. Mr Meisenberg inquired of us whether it would be possible to put together such a bundle, and we have sought to do so.

    Secondly, we have been asked by the ICC to remove from the courtroom the files which are presently below the desk. Consequently, having just one file to deal with would assist not merely this trial, but also the smooth future operation of this courtroom, which, as we know, has now to accommodate two trials. Now, I haven't finalised this file, and I have not made copies at this stage for all the parties because we do need time to complete the exercise.

    The second reason for the application is this: We now have a large number of documents marked for identification, and I have been alerted to the fact that a procedure has been suggested for dealing with whatever issues might arise in relation to those documents marked for identification. That exercise will necessarily require my personal time because of my controlling role in the testimony of Mr Taylor, and I cannot attend to that matter and be in Court at the same time. It is a major exercise and it is important that it is conducted properly and thoroughly in order to narrow down the issues and, consequently, save time here in court.

    Now, the third factor which we would invite your Honours to bear in mind is this: Now that we know the extent and content of the cross-examination of Mr Taylor, we now have a much clearer idea of our witness requirements. Now, WVS are currently processing a substantial number of potential Defence witnesses. Much of that time, effort and expense may now be totally unnecessary.

    This is an issue which, to our minds, must be addressed immediately, and we would submit that it's in everybody's interest, in particular WVS, that we address this issue as soon as possible, and I can say that it is likely that we can now reduce our witness requirements considerably. This is, however, a decision which must be taken collectively by our team and must also involve the defendant, and it is a matter which, in our submission, needs to be attended to urgently.

    My application then, your Honours, is this: That we adjourn until next Monday. I note that we would be sitting short days this week in any event and consequently the loss of Court time will not, in our submission, be substantial whilst the likely gains are, in contrast, potentially very substantial. I anticipate if we are allowed this time, that we could wrap up re-examination and the issue of the MFIs within the time available next week. I am confident that that is possible.

    Madam President, that's my application. I don't know if there are any particular matters which I could assist with.

  • I was just wondering, Mr Griffiths, it's true you have requested time to consult your client on the specific matters that he reckons should be addressed in re-examination, but I was just wondering are there not issues that you of yourselves have determined require re-examination and that, therefore, you could proceed with in the meantime?

  • Well, that too requires some discussion with the defendant. I have been taking a note throughout the cross-examination of Mr Taylor, of course, of particular issues which might merit revisiting during the course of re-examination. Whether or not the defendant agrees with that or not is another matter altogether. And, again, if allowed time, it is a matter which could be resolved and consequently result in us taking up less time in court, and it would also allow me an opportunity to finalise this re-examination bundle.

  • Okay.

  • Mr Griffiths, just to make it clear what you are saying. You are saying if your application for an adjournment is granted, next week you could wrap up not only the matter of the marked-for-identification documents, but also re-examination?

  • Within the one week.

  • Ms Hollis, could you please respond to the application for adjournment.

  • Just a few points for your Honours to consider. First of all, an adjournment to ensure that the accused cannot later say that he has not had ample time to set out his case - he had 13 weeks to set out his case on direct examination, redirect is not for restating direct examination. Also during cross-examination his answers often went well beyond the questions and he took the opportunity to restate his case at that time. So we suggest that is not a justification for adjournment.

    In terms of the MFIs, it's not a procedure that was suggested; it's a procedure that your Honours have determined will be met. That is something that could be worked on by other members of the team as well as lead Defence counsel.

    The Prosecution's case on the merits has not changed as a result of the tenor of cross-examination, so we suggest that that is also a questionable justification for further delay to determine what witnesses to call. The Defence has indicated in the past that delay would expedite the proceedings. That hasn't always been the case. We see we are almost a year since the Prosecution's case closed and we have had one Defence witness.

    In terms of the request for a week, what we would suggest, your Honours, has merit is that the lead Defence counsel have time to consult with the accused in terms of matters that the accused wishes to raise so that lead counsel can determine if those matters are appropriate for re-examination. We suggest that it would not need a week for that, that that could be done in the afternoons since we are having morning sessions only. So we would suggest that a shorter adjournment would accomplish the one - what the Prosecution views as - legitimate goal that has been set forward by the Defence. So we do not oppose an adjournment, but we question that an adjournment of one week is required based on any proper justification that has been presented to your Honours. Thank you.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • We will take some ten minutes off the Bench and we will return with a ruling.

  • [Break taken at 9.16 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 9.56 a.m.]

  • The following is the Court's ruling. Now, we have noted the Defence have applied for an adjournment for the rest of this week on the following grounds:

    Firstly, that the accused wishes to raise certain matters on re-examination. He has prepared a list of those matters, but Mr Griffiths's, lead counsel, has not had a chance to discuss them with him. Mr Griffiths, who has conduct of Mr Taylor's case, needs time to discuss these matters with Mr Taylor with a view to narrowing the scope of the issues involved.

    Secondly, Mr Griffiths is also in the process of putting together one single bundle of documents for re-examination. He says that this will save time by us not having to refer to the various lever arch files. However, Mr Griffiths needs time to complete this bundle and to prepare copies for both the Prosecution and the Bench.

    Thirdly, the very large list of documents marked for identification, some odd 408 or so, requires Mr Griffiths's personal attention and he cannot do so if he is required to be in court as well, so he requires time for that.

    Fourthly, Mr Griffiths needs time to review the witness requirements. He is of the view that he can reduce the witness list considerably, thus saving time and expense. This is a matter, he submits, that should be discussed as soon as possible. It is an urgent and collective decision on the part of the Defence team.

    Fifthly, if the application for adjournment is granted Mr Griffiths is confident that he will be able to deal with the matter of the documents marked for identification as well as complete the re-examination all within the course of the coming week.

    Now, the Prosecution in their submission does not oppose the application in principle but states that one week, in their opinion, is too long an adjournment.

    Now, the judges are mindful of the rights of the accused under Article 17.4.c to be tried without undue delay and also under 17.4.b of his right to consult counsel of his choosing and to have adequate time to prepare his case.

    We are also mindful of our standing order at the end of each day to Mr Taylor not to discuss his evidence with anyone and that includes his counsel.

    The result of that order has been that obviously there are matters that have arisen in cross-examination that he would need to consult with his chosen counsel and we are of the view that he should be given an opportunity to do that.

    Secondly, we have during the cross-examination of this witness spent a considerable amount of time on locating documents spread over 20 or so lever arch files. Mr Griffiths's commitment to sort out the documents he intends to use during re-examination is therefore a welcomed suggestion likely to result in a saving of the Court's time.

    We are also of the view that the Defence's commitment to review their witness list with a view to reducing the number of witnesses to be called will ultimately result in an expeditious trial, whilst affording Mr Taylor the adequate time to prepare. This is coupled with the Defence's commitment that they will complete the task of re-examination as well as handling the documents for admission all in the course of next week.

    Finally we note that, in any event, what the Defence is in effect requesting for is for four half days this week when the Court is scheduled to sit, totalling 16 hours, which in our view is not an unreasonable request in the circumstances. We therefore grant the adjournment requested of one week.

    In view of the adjournment granted and the requests made by Defence counsel to consult, we are of the view that the normal standing order we give to Mr Taylor not to discuss his evidence is lifted for the purpose of enabling him to consult for purposes of re-examination.

    Now, having said that, I only wish to remind the parties of our ruling last week regarding the motions that we will expect each party to file in view of the documents that they intend to submit or to tender, the MFIs that they wish to tender. Mr Griffiths has committed to looking at these also in the course of this week and to coming to a conclusive decision in the course of next week, and we trust that this will be done and that a motion will be filed in the time that you have committed to file the motion. The same goes for the Prosecution as well.

    If there are no other issues between the parties, I will adjourn the trial to Monday, 15 February. And just to note that that week we will be sitting full days as usual, so that too is a welcomed development. Court is adjourned accordingly.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 10.03 a.m. to be reconvened on Monday, 15 February 2010 at 9.30 a.m.]