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Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 99

Friday, June 8, 2007
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Executive Summary:

Trial Chamber I spent this week hearing detailed oral arguments on the admissibility of prior statements made by the first accused, Issa Sesay. The statements in controversy were taken by OTP Investigators during ten days of custodial interviews in March and April of 2003, immediately following Mr. Sesay’s initial detention. At issue was the voluntariness of Mr. Sesay’s statements and his alleged waivers of the right remain silent and the right to counsel. Prosecution sought to admit the transcripts, arguing that Investigators legitimately obtained the waivers and questioned Sesay in accordance with the procedural rights of the accused. Defense counsel argued that trickery, threats, and other improperly coercive methods were used to obtain the waivers and further elicit involuntary statements from the accused in breach of Rules 42, 63, and 92. These breaches would amount to violations of the fundamental rights of the accused and render the transcripts inadmissible pursuant to the Rule 95 mandate that, “No evidence shall be admitted if its admission would bring the administration of justice into serious disrepute.” The Chamber presided over three days of oral arguments on the matter before deciding, on Friday, to order a formal voir dire—a trial within a trial during which the Judges could hear testimonial evidence from witnesses involved in the 2003 custodial interrogation