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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #104

RUF Trial Report: Augustine Gbao Defense Case-In-Chief

2 – 24 June 2008

This report offers a thematic overview and analysis of the evidentiary, legal, procedural, and court management issues that arose during the final session of the Revolutionary United Front (“RUF”) trial,during which the Defense for third accused Augustine Gbao presented its casein-chief. Taken together with similar reports provided by the War Crimes Studies Center during the past four years, it hopes to constitute a helpful record to those who would like to compare each side’s recently-completed final briefs and arguments, as well as the Court’s forthcoming judgment, to the evidence presented. Researchers interested in issues ranging from the evidentiary to the procedural to the administrative will also find it useful. Although the Gbao Defense case was not lengthy, the evidence provided therein has important implications for the RUF trial as a whole (and indeed, the historical record of the war that the Court is creating).

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #102

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 29 June 2007

Early this week, the Prosecution concluded its cross examination of the first accused, Issa Sesay. After Mr. Sesay stepped down, the Defense called its next two witnesses, both civilian women from Kailahun district testifying under protective measures. They were designated DIS-302 and DIS-301. Both women concluded their testimony before court adjourned on the 28th of June. This week’s proceedings brought the summer trial session to a close. As announced earlier this month, the Trial Chamber adjourned a full month earlier than originally anticipated. At close of proceedings, the Presiding Judge announced that trial will resume the 11th of September, 2007.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #101

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 22 June 2007

This week, Trial Chamber One concluded its voir dire inquiry into the post-arrest custodial interrogation of first accused, Issa Sesay. Defense called three witnesses and the Chamber heard brief closing submissions from each party. On Friday morning, the Bench ruled against the Prosecution—excluding Mr. Sesay’s statements as involuntary on the grounds that OTP investigators took them in breach of the fundamental rights of the accused. Immediately following the Trial Chamber’s oral decision, the main trial resumed, Mr. Sesay returned to the stand, and the Prosecution began its cross-examination.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #100

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 15 June 2007

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.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #98

 

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

29 May – 1 June 2007

First accused, Issa Sesay, concluded direct examination early in the week. Prior to cross  examination, Mr. Sesay’s Counsel, Wayne Jordash attempted to bring a motion to  suppress certain anticipated Prosecution evidence. The Trial Chamber spent a great deal  of time hearing arguments about whether or not it was timely to hear arguments on the  substance of the motion. Ultimately, the Bench barred Defense from bringing the motion  on the grounds that it was premature. The Court also disposed, somewhat obliquely, of  the unresolved matter of translation irregularities raised late last week. After Mr. Jordash concluded direct examination of his client, Counsel for the co-accused proceeded with cross-examination for the remainder of the week.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #84a

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 21 July 2006

The bench read its considered statement on the Defence submissions regarding the comments made by the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, during his visit to the SCSL on 3 July 2006, at the beginning of proceedings on July 20th. On behalf of all three defence teams, Mr Jordash had argued that the reference made by Mr. Annan to the accused at the SCSL as criminals who had destroyed the country, was in violation of the rights of accused persons, enshrined in Article 17 of the Court’s Statute. The Chamber stated that “On the substance of Mr. Jordash’s submission that this Trial Chamber distances itself….from H E Kofi Annan’s comments so that it might prevent the Chamber from further damage to its standing in the international community as a result of said comments we issue the statement for the record.”The Presiding Judge carried on to say that the Chamber recognized the Secretary General’s authority to make political statements, however it also noted that “what is absolutely clear, is that the judges of the international judiciary are not bound by political statements made by the chief executive of the United Nations or by member states of the United Nations.” The Chamber also reiterated various relevant articles of the Statute, elaborating on the separation of powers between the executive organ of the UN, as an agent of the international community, and the Special Court, as a judicial organ.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #83a

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 14 July 2006

The 4th week of the current RUF trial session saw the closed session testimony of both an insider witness as well as an expert witness for the Prosecution, who is set to close their case by the end of this session. The expert witness testified about the involvement of children under the age of 15 with RUF fighting forces during the conflict in Sierra Leone, as charged in Count 12 of the Indictment. The Prosecution also tendered a report authored by the expert witness in question, which, despite vigorous objections by the defence, was admitted into evidence by Trial Chamber I. In its decision the Chamber reiterated its flexible approach to the admissibility of evidence, in line with other international criminal trials.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #82a

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 7 July 2006

This week’s proceedings saw the closed session testimony of two protected witnesses for the Prosecution. Various concerns regarding the protection system offered to witnesses by the Court was thrown into question after Witness TF1-334 expressed fear that his identity would be revealed and recalled earlier intimidation he had experienced by investigators. While defence counsel contended that this represented a ruse by the witness to extract greater benefit from the Witness and Victims Services (WVS) Unit, given that his identity was already well known prior to his testimony, the Chamber took the witness’ fears very seriously and indicated their deep concern that the protection system was failing.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #81a

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 30 June 2006

The second week of the eighth RUF trial session saw the testimony of two important witnesses, one being a UN military observer who was held hostage by the RUF during the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process in 2000 and the other being a former RUF-combatant who was forced to join the RUF after being kidnapped from his village as a child. The defence also had the opportunity to cross-examine Prosecution witness Alfred Sesay, for whom the Prosecution submitted a solemn declaration in lieu of having him give oral testimony.

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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #80a

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 23 June 2006

The eighth session of the RUF accused trial began this week with a Status Conference on 19 June 2006. The trial session is scheduled to continue until 3 August 2006, inclusive. The health of the first accused, Issa Sesay, figured prominently in the Status Conference: Sesay continues to await surgery for a bullet wound in his hip. The Registry’s efforts to complete the required administrative and legal processes to allow for the procedure to be conducted outside Sierra Leone appear to have reached a stalemate, with defence counsel having no further update as to the progress on this issue.

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KRT Trial Monitor

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