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

This is dated the 22nd of December 1999. Third line, paragraph 1: "Talks between President Taylor and Obasanjo during President Obasanjo's stopover at the Roberts International Airport on Monday, the 21st of December 1999, the minister indicated that the talks centred on the question of the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord in Sierra Leone.

First bullet point under the subheading Sierra Leone: "On the issue of the peace process in Sierra Leone, President Taylor informed his guest that he had been engaged in resolving the problem between Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie. It was his assessment that Sam Bockarie was defying the orders of the leader of his movement."

Skip a couple of lines: Arrangements should be made to ensure that Sam Bockarie and his immediate followers stay out of Sierra Leone until the end of the disarmament process. He therefore appealed to President Obasanjo and other leaders in the region to assist this country in meeting this challenge. President Obasanjo welcomed President Taylor's initiative and promised to approach other colleagues in the region so as to solicit their support for such a worthy project.

Over the page, please. Last paragraph on the page: "The minister underscored the risks that Liberia was taking by according Sam Bockarie and his immediate followers some sort of temporary asylum. He noted the decision was reached primarily because it would not be possible to solve the problem by merely granting temporary asylum to Bockarie alone as one of his officers in the field could assume the role of a field commander. In any case, the plan is to ensure that he lives in Monrovia and not in the hinterland, so that the government can keep an eye on his movements."

Does that look like something that was being done clandestinely. Is it not clear that Mr Taylor was speaking to other leaders about the movement of Bockarie? Is it not clear that the United Nations were perfectly aware that Bockarie was to be moved to Monrovia? Where in this is there evidence to support the thesis that this is further evidence of Taylor's control? Where?

Now, I am coming close to conclude but before I do, I say this: We say the documents we have highlighted provide a useful road map to the truth. Unless answers can be provided to the many questions raised by these documents, we submit no reasonable tribunal can be satisfied so that they are sure, that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But there is another aspect to the behaviour of the Prosecution which it would be remiss of me if I did not highlight it.

I do believe this to be the case, that the Prosecution in this Court is an indivisible entity. So as such, this Prosecution, when acting in the CDF trial, in the AFRC trial, in this trial, have to act and behave consistently, because prosecutors are ministers of justice. It is their job not to go all out for a conviction but to place the relevant evidence before the Court, which is why they have disclosure obligations such as under rule 68. So they need to be consistent. Now, we say they haven't been. Let's take, for example, the shifting theory of JCE. Let's compare the Prosecution's opening statement of the creation of JCE on the 4th of June 2007, at page 282 of the transcript.

"It was supposed to have begun in Libya. The execution of this plan, and it really begins," I quote Mr Rapp, "as we indicated before 1991, before 1996, in 1988 or 1989 with the military training in north Africa of Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh and other people who later became leaders of the RUF and NPFL. A plan was there formulated by the accused and others to take over political and physical control.

Do you know what's become of that now? Paragraph 51, page 35 of the Prosecution's brief: "Soon after Foday Sankoh arrived in Libya, he made it clear that he wanted to be recognised as leader of the group of Sierra Leoneans who were there, that he wanted to begin the struggle in Sierra Leone. Foday Sankoh also made clear that his vision, including collaborating from the Liberians and using Liberian territory as a springboard into Sierra Leone. Prior to the invasion of Liberia, Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh formed common cause."

That's what it's become.

So that in effect, we submit that the Prosecution have not proved when, where or between whom, either a strategic plan or a tactical plan was formed.

Now, another matter of concern, and bear in mind I'm talking here about the Prosecution acting consistently. In the Sam Bockarie indictment, dated 2003, implicates Charles Taylor in only two ways: In respect of JCE and through the provision of guidance and direction to Sankoh. Now, the relevant part of that indictment, are paragraphs 19, and I'll come to another paragraph. It reads as follows:

"Foday Saybana Sankoh was incarcerated and subjected to restrictions on his movement in Nigeria and in Sierra Leone from about March 1997 to about April 1999. During this period, by order of Foday Saybana Sankoh, the accused," that's Sam Bockarie, "directed all RUF operations in Sierra Leone. Also during this time, by virtue of the authority given him by Foday Sankoh, the accused worked directly and in consort with Charles Taylor, also known as Charles Ghankay Macarthur Dankpannah Taylor. In addition, by order of or with the acquiescence of Foday Sankoh, the accused also received," note the words, "guidance and direction from Charles Taylor."

And then paragraph 24 of that indictment: "At all relevant - at all times relevant to this indictment, the accused, by virtue of his position within and continued affiliation with the RUF, and the authority given him by Foday Sankoh, acted in concert with Charles Ghankay Taylor."

Paragraph 20. "As battlefield commander, the accused was subordinate in command only to the leader of the RUF, Foday Sankoh, and the leader of the AFRC, Johnny Paul Koroma."

They are supposed to be consistent, aren't they? And if Taylor was the controlling influence, one would have expected this indivisible Prosecution to consistently state their case. Not so, it would appear.

I do now come to conclude, Madam President. The fact is a criminal trial is not a beauty contest. We are not asking this Court to like Charles Taylor, no. However, when a fact-finder comes to decide upon evidence it is a useful guide to such a person to consider how you would want another fact-finder to approach the evidence if the situation were different and it was a member of your family, a friend, or a colleague, who was on trial. What standards would you expect such a fact-finder to apply? We submit that this man, however he has been painted in the public, deserves nothing less than that, and we submit that when this indictment is approached in that independent, reasonable, unemotional way, there can only be one verdict on all these counts, and that is a verdict - and those are verdicts of not guilty. Thank you for listening so intently.

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