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

Firstly, I want to apologise for taking longer than we had indicated, simply because we needed that much more time to formulate our decision.

The following is the Trial Chamber's decision regarding the issues as they lie on the floor:

The Trial Chamber recalls that on the 4th of June, 2007, the accused, Mr Charles Ghankay Taylor, wrote a letter addressed to the Presiding Judge notifying the Chamber that he, amongst others, terminated instructions to his then legal representatives and that he was from that time forward going to represent himself. This is what the letter said in summary.

The Trial Chamber notes that the accused's absence in court today, in absence of any explanation to the Court, is not only inconsistent with his indication to represent himself - for how can one represent oneself if they're absent? - but it's also tantamount to boycotting the proceedings, in the Chamber's view.

The Trial Chamber agrees with the Prosecutor that the accused does not have the option to appear before this Court as and when he chooses to. Regardless of the issues or difficulties he is encountering in sorting out his fair-trial issues - and we in no regard consider those issues as small or trivial; they are valid issues - but regardless of those issues, the accused is under an obligation to appear before the Court at all times. When he chooses not to appear, we can assume that he has deemed to absent himself or he is, in fact, boycotting the proceedings as a whole.

Now, having said that, the Trial Chamber notes the Principal Defender's submission this morning that he has tried, the Principal Defender has tried, and succeeded in persuading Mr Taylor that the idea of self-representation would not be in the interests of justice, nor of the integrity of the judicial process in these circumstances. The Trial Chamber, therefore, accepts that Mr Taylor no longer wishes to represent himself and instead would accept Assigned Counsel to represent him.

The Trial Chamber would like to draw the attention of the Principal Defender to the provisions of Article 24(D) of the Practice Direction on Assignment of Counsel. The provisions require the Principal Defender, upon accepting withdrawal of Assigned Counsel, to, and I quote, "immediately assign new counsel to represent the accused and, where appropriate, authorise the nomination of other counsel in the Defence team."

We also would like to draw your attention, Mr Principal Defender, to Article 25(A) of the same Directive which provides that "where counsel is withdrawn by the Principal Defender, or where the services of Assigned Counsel are discontinued," as in this case, "Duty Counsel of the Office of the Principal Defender shall give the accused legal assistance until a new counsel is assigned, unless the accused waives his right to such assistance."

In other words, the Statute, the rules, and Directive on Assignment of Counsel do not envisage a vacuum situation whereby, after assignment -- Assigned Counsel are withdrawn, there would be no provision made to replace counsel.

The Chamber, therefore, notes that the Principal Defender should have endeavoured, at least in the short term and in the interim, to comply with the provisions of Articles 24 and 25, as I've read them above, of the Directive on Assignment, and this should have been done in the interests of justice.

Now, regarding the long-term provision for Assigned Counsel, the Trial Chamber has noted the submissions of both the Principal Defender and Mr Adenuga on behalf of the Acting Registrar. The Trial Chamber notes that the issue of inadequate representation has been known to the Acting Registrar in general and to the Principal Defender in particular since early March 2007 and nothing practical seems to have been done to address the problems.

The focus of the Registry has not been to provide the accused with adequate representation as required by Article 17 of the Statute. Rather, the Registry's focus has been conserving funds and working within budgetary constraints. In the Trial Chamber's view, the whole issue has wrongly boiled down to availability of finances rather than fair-trial issues being addressed.

The Trial Chamber wishes to emphasise that if this Court is expected to conduct a fair and expeditious trial, then the provision of adequate representation and adequate resources are inevitable. They must be provided.

The Trial Chamber has, on a number of occasions before today, warned the Registry of potential delay arising out of the failure to resolve these issues in a timely fashion, and today our worst fears have been realised.

In our view, the resolution of this issue lies squarely with the Registrar, Acting Registrar, in consultation with the Office of the Principal Defender, and failure to resolve this issue has led to this and probably further delay of these proceedings.

We wish to emphasise here that we really would not like -- or we've frowned upon undue delay in this trial. That it would come from an institution within the Court is really regrettable, or it would come from some kind of a consideration of budgetary constraints, et cetera, is really regrettable, and I do not know how to underline that.

In the circumstances, the Trial Chamber makes the following orders, which we consider to be in the interests of justice and which we hope will move this trial forward. They are divided into short-term measures and long-term measures.

Now, in the short term, the Principal Defender is directed to immediately comply with the provisions of Article 24(D) of the Directive on Assignment of Counsel by assigning new counsel to represent the accused, either from the list of counsel or from OPD.

Again, in the interim, the Principal Defender is further directed to retain, if possible, the residual team members of the Taylor Defence team to assist this newly Assigned Counsel.

And thirdly, in the interim again, Duty Counsel, the present Duty Counsel, is directed to appear in court on Monday, the 2nd of July, 2007 - that's a week from today - when this case reconvenes, to represent the accused if Assigned Counsel is not yet in a position to start -- to assume his duties. So, in other words, the trial will commence on the 2nd of July, and these are the interim measures that we'll put in place. The trial will continue on the 2nd of July.

Now, in the long term, and this is directed at the Acting Registrar, the Acting Registrar is directed to ensure that by the 31st of July, 2007 --

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