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Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 100

Justice Sow and counsel
Friday, June 15, 2007
Country: 

Executive Summary:

The Investigations Section of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) came into serious disrepute this week during a special voir dire hearing to determine the admissibility of post-arrest statements made in 2003 by first accused, Issa Sesay. The four investigators called by the Prosecution to testify in this “trial within a trial” denied any professional misconduct or procedural rights violations during Mr. Sesay’s arrest, detention, and interrogation. However, they went on to give evidence in direct and cross examination which, to varying degrees for each witness, largely corroborated the Defense allegations that Mr. Sesay’s statements were taken in breach of Article 17 of the Statute of the Court and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The testimony further confirmed numerous irregular, unexplained investigative practices of the OTP unit.

Beyond the impact this week’s proceedings may have on the narrow question of evidentiary admissibility, the testimony delivered by OTP’s own investigators would appear to impeach the integrity and professionalism of certain senior members of the Investigations section. It remains to be seen whether OTP or Registry officials will launch any sort of administrative inquiry into the general investigative protocol followed by Prosecution investigators. Neither OTP nor the Registry wished to comment when formally asked to do so by the author of this report. Both cited a policy of withholding remarks on matters sub judice in the Special Court.