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Trial Monitoring

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 113

Trial Chamber II at the SCSL continued to hear evidence from Defense witnesses this month in the case against Charles Taylor. Proceedings were cut short at the end of the month (June 28 – July 2), when the Defense team asked the Trial Chamber to take an unscheduled break, because the Defense was unable to produce a witness for this interval (they cited scheduling conflicts and logistical issues). The Trial Chamber resumed its usual schedule on July 5. 

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 112

Trial Chamber II at the SCSL continued to hear evidence from Defense witnesses this month in the case against Charles Taylor. Witnesses, all of whom were NPFL insiders, testified about the early days of the NPFL, and told the Court that Taylor did not supply the RUF with arms or ammunition. Witnesses further claimed that the NPFL did not use child soldiers or commit crimes against Liberian civilians—who, witnesses testified, welcomed and supported the NPFL. 

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 111

The Defense case moved ahead steadily in April, with three new witnesses taking the stand for Charles Taylor. By the end of this reporting period, Taylor’s Defense team had called a total of eleven witnesses. Much of the testimony this month focused on events occurring before the indictment period (which spans from 1996 to 2002), including the formation and training of the RUF in 1991, its first incursions into Sierra Leone, and the early years of the war.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 110

The Defense called its second witness, Yankuba Samateh, a.k.a. Yanks Smythe, on Monday February 22, 2010. By the second week of March, the Defense had increased the pace at which it was calling witnesses, with six witnesses completing testimony during this reporting period. The witnesses testified primarily about Taylor’s time in Libya, the use of child soldiers, and how the RUF acquired guns and ammunition. Many witnesses during this period were granted protective measures, and much of their testimony took place in closed session. 

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 109

The Prosecution’s questions during cross-examination focused primarily on Taylor’s claim that he was appointed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Committee of Five (a group of regional leaders attempting to negotiate peace in Sierra Leone) to be the “point president for peace” for the conflict in Sierra Leone. Additionally, the Prosecution tried to prove a pattern of conduct—i.e., that the events that took place in Sierra Leone were seminal to those that took place in Liberia under the reign of the Taylorled NPFL.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 107

After 205 days—or 41 full weeks—of court sessions, examination of the Prosecution’s 91st and final witness concluded on January 30, 2009. Prosecutor Stephen Rapp said his team had “achieved was [they] set out to do.”1 Proceedings ran smoothly and efficiently in these final weeks. The Defendant missed a single day of trial on the last day of the session, but he gave consent for the trial to proceed in his absence.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 106

The trial against Charles Taylor rushed ahead in the month of October: the Prosecution called 32 witnesses in 17 days of trial, and the parties litigated several noteworthy procedural issues. The witnesses (all crime-base or victim witnesses) provided harrowing testimony about mass atrocities they claim to have experienced or witnessed in Sierra Leone. Nearly half of the witnesses testified under Rule 92bis, which allowed them to submit prior written statements in lieu of undergoing direct examination.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Update 105

Following the Court’s scheduled summer recess from July 21 to August 18, the trial of Charles Taylor got off to a slow start. The accused refused to appear in Court for the first two days of trial, in protest of heightened security measures imposed on Mr. Taylor at the detention facility by the Dutch prison authorities. On Wednesday, the accused appeared in Court, yet the scheduled cross-examination of witness TF1-375 could not begin because Mr. Munyard, the cross-examining Defense attorney, was out ill.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor Trial, Rule 98 Pleadings

April 2009 marked the halfway point in the case of Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). Pursuant to Rule 98 of the SCSL Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Trial Chamber II heard oral submissions from the parties on a motion for acquittal brought by Counsel for the Accused. The Defense is entitled to bring this motion at the close of the Prosecution’s case-in-chief. The premise underlying a Rule 98 motion is that the Prosecution has failed to present evidence sufficient to support a guilty verdict for one or more of the alleged crimes in the indictment.

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