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

Your Honours, sometimes looking at a diagram helps to focus the mind more clearly as to what the true issues are, and we can see here that the bulk of the offending occurs within this period in the middle of the diagram, and it basically covers a roughly 12-month period, that is about from March 1998 to February 1999.

That period of madness, triggered by the ECOMOG intervention, culminating in the Freetown invasion. The only two crimes for which he stands to be sentenced which endured for an extended period of time during the indictment period were the recruitment and use of child soldiers and enslavement, which are these two long lines here. But you will see that the other crimes are, for the most part, concentrated within that time-scale.

Now we submit that that fact must have certain consequences in terms of sentence.

Moving onto Mr Taylor's role in the peace process. We boldly submit that peace would not have come to Sierra Leone but for the efforts of Charles Taylor. In this regard, we point in summary to four critical interventions by the president of Liberia: His facilitation of the Lomé Peace Accord; secondly, his efforts in securing the release of the captured UNAMSIL personnel; thirdly, his brokering of the cessation of hostilities by the West Side Boys; and finally, his role in the appointment of Issa Sesay as acting leader of the RUF, thereby ensuring the continuation of the Lomé Peace Accord.

These are all well documented, as highlighted in our sentencing brief at paragraph 122, and were all central and essential for the bringing of peace to Liberia's neighbour, which Mr Taylor has oft repeated was essential for stability in his own country.

Now, I appreciate that this Court has found that in making these efforts, Mr Taylor was acting like a two-headed Janus. We, of course, note the contents of paragraph 119 of the summary judgement. However, in our view, for sentencing purposes, the following factual propositions are true:

One, we submit that the Trial Chamber should concentrate on what was objectively achieved by Mr Taylor's involvement, and we do maintain that but for Mr Taylor's involvement, peace would not have come to Sierra Leone.

The second proposition which we would ask Your Honours to adopt is this: It should be further noted that after the retreat from Freetown in early 1999, there was no further major outbreak of violence in Sierra Leone so that any assistance provided were not used to break the peace in that country.

Further, Mr Taylor has not been convicted of having planned any actions in Sierra Leone after 1999. Thereafter, the most that can be pointed to is the use of the RUF to fight against LURD after their incursions into Liberia, which we would describe as an act of self-defence.

Thirdly, voluntary resignation from office. His voluntary resignation from office is a further matter we would seek to emphasise. Contemporary events in Syria informs us that power is not easily relinquished. By stepping down, Charles Taylor saved Liberia and prevented the contagion of further warfare spilling over into neighbouring countries and thereby further destabilising the sub-region. There is, we say, an important lesson here for which he should be given credit.

Finally, the age of the offender. We only have to do the math. We all recognise that to sentence a 64-year-old man to 80 years in prison is, in effect, a guarantee that he will die in prison. In fact, if not in name, what is proposed is a life sentence, a sentence which cannot be imposed by this Court. Even a sentence of 40 years would, in this case, in all likelihood have the same consequence.

Now, we would submit that it's a basic sentencing principle that the possibility that an accused person will not live to be released is a matter which should have a major impact on a sentencing decision; thus, the Court may think it would be proper to adjust the sentence to do what it reasonably can -- can do to avoid the possibility of Mr Taylor dying in prison.

Now I mentioned earlier a possible pitfall in this sentencing process. Now, we say that the Court should be mindful of its rejection of the joint enterprises pleaded by the Prosecution and also the rejection of the notion of command responsibility. Conscious of those important findings, the concept of planning should not be expanded into a surrogate for those rejected modes of liability; that is, the limits of the concept of planning should not be extended to encompass all the underlying crimes.

I come, then, to conclude, Your Honours. In conclusion we remind ourselves that the Statute which established this court provided that this court shall have the power to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since the 30th of November, 1996, including those leaders who in committing such crimes have threatened the establishment of and implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

We say that by seeking a sentence so offensive to logic and reason, this Prosecution endangers that peace. People in Liberia quite justifiably, in our submission, are asking the question: How can our former president be sentenced to 80 years in prison, while next door, in Sierra Leone, former President Kabbah goes free? Many Liberians regard this as being vindictive.

Did he, too, not share the greatest responsibility? We submit this has the potential to increase tensions between those two states. In short, such a sentence as demanded is, we say, erroneous in principle and endangers the very peace this Court was established to maintain.

And finally we say this. Retribution should never be the sole criterion in sentencing, neither deterrent. Every accused, in our submission, must be left with some hope, must be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, however long that tunnel must be. And we submit that should be a guiding consideration in this sentencing exercise.

Thank you.

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