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

Also Mr Chekera. I think he's so close, I missed him. Now, bearing in mind the orders made by your Honours on Monday, we have divided our address into the following sections. I will address you today and at this point in time, I'm unsure as to how long I will be. Mr Munyard will address you tomorrow. And Friday's presentation will be taken by Mr Anyah. Now, may I start with an apology? I apologise to Madam case manager for not providing her with an electronic list of exhibits to be used in my closing address. It is entirely my fault, in part because of certain travel difficulties in getting here for today's hearing, but I think the difficulty has now been addressed and we are ready to proceed.

Now, I don't know how your Honours would like me to proceed. I would much prefer that our address to the Court is interactive. We bear in mind the volume of material to be assessed, so consequently we may not always be in a position to provide an immediate answer, but nonetheless, we prefer that we, in effect, have a discussion, so that any issue as to our case or your perception of the Prosecution case can be discussed before your final decision. We want to avoid a state of bewilderment. If you, the judges, make a decision or a finding of fact which we cannot understand, and thus are unable to explain to our client, consequently, if at any stage your Honours have a question, please feel free to interrupt. We, the Defence, think we can be of greater service to your Honours if we adopt this course.

So may it please your Honours, we adopt the observation made by the Appeals Chamber in our most recent appeal, that the purpose of oral submissions is to highlight important aspects of the Defence case. That we will seek to do. In particular, I will seek to focus on what we say are some of the most important documents produced in this case, and we say the vast majority of the most important documents were overwhelmingly produced by the Defence.

Now, Charles Taylor is the first-ever African leader to be put on trial. His trial has been trumpeted by the Prosecution as demonstrating an end to impunity. We agree. Indeed, his trial is of importance to Africa and this evolving concept of international justice, to which we are, as a Defence, unswervingly committed. Yet we note that currently, everyone being tried or awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court are from, guess where, Africa. We are disturbed by this. We are disturbed by that fact but nonetheless maintain our commitment to this concept of international justice, because we are anxious to play our part in establishing such a system, which maintains, which should be its starting point, that whether you are princess or prostitute, whether you are the President of the United States or the President of Liberia, the law is above you. That should be the guiding principle. That is the essence, we submit, of the rule of law. Whether that, however, currently is the case is a matter of debate. Yet, interestingly, despite the importance of this trial, the fact is that no one took any notice of it until a supermodel, with her agent, and the Hollywood actress turned up at this Court and the minute they departed, we returned to obscurity.

And we note that it is when the public at large are kept uninformed and in the dark, that an accused's rights can sometimes be put out. Because we submit that it's important for the public that they should be in a position to follow these proceedings, particularly the people in Africa. For, if indeed the Taylor trial is to set an important precedent, then it was important that he be prosecuted fairly and transparently, as promised by Stephen Rapp when he opened the Prosecution case as long ago as the 4th of June 2007, and I quote, "The Prosecution will seek at all times to ensure that it embodies the fundamental principles of fairness, due process and justice."

We submit that it's to the shame of this Prosecution that it has besmirched the lofty ideals of international criminal law by turning this case into a 21st century form of neocolonialism, and I'm not apologising for saying that. For this Prosecution has been selective. This was a court, ostensibly and publicly, set up, we are told, to try those who bear the greatest responsibility. So why is Colonel Muammar Gaddafi not in the dock? Have you not heard of the recent utterances from David Crane? Have you not heard that this Court would have been refused funding by the British government had they attempted to indict Gaddafi because the then British government led by Tony Blair were anxious to pursue their economic interests in that country? Have you not heard that? What about Blaise Compaore? What about Tejan Kabbah, the defence minister who allowed his deputy to carry the can and end his days in custody?

Now, way back in mid-2002, Charles Taylor gave an interview to New African magazine. This was before he would have known that an indictment would be unveiled against him, so it cannot credibly be claimed that he was then seeking to establish a defence.

So what he had to say to them was said without a criminal prosecution in mind. Could I ask Madam Court Manager to put up, please, the document which we have behind divider one in our bundle, exhibit D-334? Now, in this interview with Charles Taylor, and you will see from the bottom of the page, it's dated July/August 2002, he said this: "Liberia's President," and I'm looking at the first page of the interview, "Charles Taylor, is sure that quote unquote, 'some powerful countries' are out to get him. But he does not want to name them. 'Because they punish you the more if you do.' Yet the names are all over in the streets of Liberia, the USA and Britain. One freelance photographer told me letting the name roll off his tongue like sweet apple" -- can we go over the page?

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