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Special Court Monitoring Program Update #108

Charles Taylor Trial Report

13 July – 10 November 2009

This report provides an in-depth review of the examination-in-chief of Charles Taylor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone case Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor. With much anticipation and media attention, Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, took the stand in his own defense on July 13, 2009. His testimony came after ninety-one Prosecution witnesses provided evidence against him over the course of a year, supporting allegations of eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone during a decade-long civil war.

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Special Report on Rule 98 Pleadings in the Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor: Defense Motion for Acquittal on Basis of Insufficient Evidence

3 July 2009

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. A successful Rule 98 motion may, in theory, result in a total acquittal for the accused before the Defense opens its case. Alternatively, where the Court finds some counts supported by evidence, and others unsupported, a Rule 98 motion can help the Defense narrow down the scope of the charges it must answer. Thus, Rule 98 provides the Court with a useful tool by which it can shorten the length of a trial, as warranted by the evidence presented.

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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 #99

Trial Chamber I – RUF Trial

Week Ending 7 June 2007

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.

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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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KRT Trial Monitor

The Trial Chamber this week continued to hear testimony regarding the experiences of workers at the

Over four days of hearings this week, the Trial Chamber heard the testimony of two witnesses and a C

In recent weeks, the ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber (SCC) has made a series of announcements regarding

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From 4 to 8 May 2015, the Trial Chamber effectively completed the testimonies of two witnesses via v