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

It's the first paragraph on the left, your Honour, and for your Honour's assistance I'll repeat it:

"Liberia's President Charles Ghankay Taylor is sure that '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, USA and Britain. One freelance photographer told me letting the names roll off his tongue like sweet apple."

Can we go over the page, please?

Second paragraph on the left:

"The problem has been compounded by the rebel war which is now in its fourth year. President Taylor firmly believes the war is the work of the powerful countries he would not name. Interestingly, the rebels first struck in August 1999, three weeks after the United Nations that supervised the demobilisation of Taylor's former NPFL fighters, and the public burning of their guns. Now the war is three years old and still going on."

Pausing there, it will be recalled that we provided ample documentary proof of the disarmament process in Liberia and the destruction of the arms which took place, and your Honours will also be aware of the coincidental timing of the first LURD attack with that destruction.

Before we leave this document, though, can I invite your Honours' attention to the next page? And I begin with the fourth paragraph to the left of that page, please.

"Next month, July, will be three years since we have been engulfed in a renewed state of crisis, where terrorists continue to attack us from neighbouring countries, fully financed and equipped by powerful states. I'm using powerful states here because I don't want to get into calling of names because each time you present them face to face with the facts, they punish you even the more. So little countries are frightened even when they do wrong to you, you are frightened to talk about their wrongs."

Skip a line. "It's not, but that's the reality of the world now. It's like when powerful nations begin to plant propaganda, lies and disinformation about you. Every other little country begins to scramble for cover because you become a target, and so you are left out there, hard and dry, to suffer. It is very terrible. Even against the point where the United Nations, that you hope you could go to for mediation and solace, becomes your whipping rod."

Now, we have suggested and we can leave that exhibit now, from the very outset that this Prosecution, and I repeat it despite Mr Koumjian's comments this morning, is politically motivated. Now, almost a decade after that interview, we say the truth has emerged. In December of last year, The Guardian Newspaper in London published two code cables, one from the US ambassador to Monrovia. Could we look, please, behind divider 2? It's exhibit D-481.

We see that this is a code cable from Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and we see the date is the 10th of March 2009. I do not intend to read all of this. But if we look at the paragraph numbered 1 on that page, beginning about halfway down the page:

"Should Taylor be acquitted in The Hague or given a light sentence, his return to Liberia could tip the balance in a fragile peace. The international community must consider steps, should Taylor not be sent to prison for a long time. We should look at the possibility of trying Taylor in the United States."

Can we now go to the penultimate paragraph on that page, please, numbered 6? And I'm beginning, I'm taking up the narrative about halfway through that paragraph.

"Taylor remains popular within many rural communities, especially in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, and is seen as someone who is able to unite Liberia's different ethnic groups. We also suspect there is some sympathy within the Americo-Liberian population who saw him as their deliverance from their losses following the 1979 coup. While we do not suggest they would want Taylor to return, we are sure that they do not - they do not want too many rocks to be turned over."

Now, can I pause there for a moment? And we need really to examine the full import of this. Remember, as was repeated by Mr Koumjian this morning, one of the reasons why this Prosecution adduced so much evidence as to what happened in Liberia, and you will recall mention of an individual who was tortured and we are told taken before Mr Taylor in Liberia, all evidence of his intent to terrorise the civilian population, an intent which he carried over into Sierra Leone. Now, hold on a minute. If this man had been terrorising the civilian population of Liberia, how is it that the US ambassador can now be saying he still remains popular within many rural communities? The very communities he was supposed to have terrorised? How is that? And let us pause for a moment now and go to paragraph 405 of the Prosecution's closing brief. This is at page 202 of the Prosecution's corrected final brief. Do your Honours have it?

"The evidence shows the terror tactics utilised by the RUF and NPFL forces in Sierra Leone had been used by Taylor in Liberia. Liberia laid the groundwork for the perpetration of the indictment crimes in Sierra Leone. Taylor's tactics in Liberia demonstrate his willingness to employ terror to achieve his aims and from this evidence his intent to commit the indictment crimes can be inferred."

I ask that your Honours please, kindly, when looking at that paragraph, bear in mind the words of the US ambassador as recently as 2009. I ask that your Honours please, when considering this allegation of terrorism, bear in mind this, what we say, is an important paragraph.

Can I return now, please, to exhibit D-481?

Can we go to the second page of that document, please? And I'm looking at the paragraph numbered 8. And I'm picking this up now on the third line of that paragraph.

"To be sure, the disarmament of the factions following the CPA has been extremely successful, and we have thus far been unable to confirm the existence of any large weapons caches, despite the persistent rumours, but the reintegration of the ex-combatants is far from complete."

I apologise for jumping around in this way but can I now invite your Honours' attention to paragraph 210, please, of the Prosecution's closing brief, which your Honours will find at page 109? Yes. Sorry, 108.

"During his presidency, Taylor also received arms and ammunition through concessionaries such as Leonid Minin, of Exotic and Tropical Timber Enterprises, aka ETTE, and Guus Kouwenhoven of Oriental Timber Company, aka OTC. And as he never truly disarmed the NPFL, contrary to the lies he told the Court, Taylor also had use of those hidden materials. This was a disarmament that did not happen, leaving the NPFL and other factions with caches of arms and ammunition. Even the programme for the destruction of the material that was turned in was described as a mess. Taylor also had the use of material he was able to induce ex-ULIMO fighters to hand over, either to him or the RUF, AFRC/RUF forces in Sierra Leone."

So let's contrast and compare, shall we? He never truly disarmed, lies he told in court, this was a disarmament that did not happen. Now, we look at what the US ambassador is saying: "The disarmament of the factions following the CPA had been extremely successful."

Which of those two are we to believe?

Can we now go, please, to paragraph 10 in exhibit 481? Yes. It's the second page. Paragraph 11:

"The threat of the return of Taylor strengthens their hand and for now they see no need to give in at all. However, if Taylor is put away for a long time, the government may feel a bit bolder in recovering assets and bringing Taylor backers who committed war crimes to justice."

Paragraph 13, please: "However, the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time. And we cannot delay for the results of the present trial to consider next steps. All legal options should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilise Liberia. Building a case in the United States against Taylor for financial crimes such as wire fraud would probably be the best route. There may be other options, such as applying the new law criminalising the use of child soldiers or terrorism statutes."

Now, this, we submit, should be a matter of concern for anyone truly interested in justice, because that paragraph suggests that this is not a trial at all, but the abuse of legal forms to achieve a predetermined end: The conviction of the accused and his incarceration for a long time.

Now, we submit, bearing that paragraph in mind, the tribunals which are but an instrument of diplomacy in the hands of powerful states are, in fact, not administering law at all but, instead, providing spurious cover for their paymasters, thereby prostituting the legal process.

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