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

Very briefly, I have carefully listened to the submissions and explanations given by lead counsel for the Defence. For me, I consider that this is a very important stage in the trial, in this trial, the stage at which each side wraps up its case. For me, the essence of a fair trial at this stage is to afford each side to wrap up its case before the judges. The reasons given by the Defence, explaining why they are not in a position to wrap up its case and file their final trial briefs, in a nutshell, are that there are decisions they expect from the Trial Chamber and from the Appeals Chamber, the results of which may well affect the content of their final briefs and the content of the defence of the accused. For me, it would not be fair to ask the defendant to wrap up his defence when there are issues on the table of the judges that we have not been able to deal with yet. In other words, the ball is in the court - is in the court of the Court, so to speak.

In my view, it is not unreasonable for Mr Taylor to say to the judges, "I will file a trial brief as soon as you give me the judgments or the decisions that I'm waiting for." On the other hand, what we are saying to Mr Taylor is, "File a piecemeal final brief in your defence."

Article 17(4)(b), I think, guarantees the accused adequate time to prepare his defence and preparing his defence in my view could not be more stressed than at this time when he's asked to wrap up his defence. He has asked for time, time to do what? To allow the judges to deliver the judgments that are due from them. He has not asked for extra time, to dilly-dally. He's simply waiting for decisions that are pending before the judges.

Now, this is not to blame the judges per se, that they have taken their time over the judgments. I do not know why, for instance, the appeals are still pending. It could be that some of the filings haven't closed. Whatever the reasons are, the bottom line is that the accused ought, at the very minimum, to be afforded an opportunity to prepare his final defence with all the pieces before him, and in my view, it is not fair to ask him to prepare piecemeal defences.

Now, I would personally have been of the view that an adjustment could be made to accommodate Mr Taylor by about a week or so, but that an effort should be made by the judges to deliver the judgments due.

Those would be my brief arguments.

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