International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Defense Concludes Closing Arguments, Attacks Credibility of Prosecution Witnesses

Today, the Defense for Charles Taylor concluded its closing arguments. Taylor is charged with eleven counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international law. He denies all of the charges against him and his legal team has presented a vigorous case in his defense. Yesterday and today, the court heard from the Defense about the most important aspects of that case. 

Yesterday, Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths discussed the strength of the documentary evidence, which he claims exonerates Taylor. 

Today, Defense Counsel Terry Munyard submitted arguments to the judges of Trial Chamber II about the credibility of Prosecution witnesses.

Tomorrow, the Prosecution and Defense will have the opportunity to counter the opposing party’s oral arguments. This should mark the end of the trial, and allow the judges to retire and deliberate the evidence presented since the trial hearings began in January 2008.

Witness Credibility

Munyard began his submissions by claiming that the credibility of some witnesses was so poor that the court should completely disregard all of their evidence.

“In this case, there are so many examples of egregious implausibility and in a number of cases downright lies [that] we submit that it is appropriate to completely put aside several prosecution witnesses altogether,” Munyard told the judges. 

The Defense pointed to the danger of relying on insider witnesses, some of whom are accomplices, and the large amount of hearsay evidence heard in the trial. Hearsay evidence is allowed at the SCSL and other international courts. However, the Defense suggested that hearsay evidence can effect the witness credibility and that hearsay evidence cannot be used to corroborate or support other hearsay evidence.

Witness Payments 

The Defense then went into a lengthy discussion of an issue that has plagued the SCSL—witness payments. The Defense has frequently cross-examined witnesses about money they have received from the Prosecution and the SCSL’s Witness and Victims Section (WVS). Indeed, the Defense recently filed a motion seeking additional evidence on this issue.

The Defense noted that all international tribunals reimburse witnesses for legitimate expenses they incur because they are involved with the court. The Defense submitted that it had no issue with these types of payments. However, as Munyard suggested, “Some of the evidence demonstrates very clearly that some prosecution witnesses have been rewarded—have ‘profited’—from their connection with the prosecution.” This, in the Defense’s view, rendered these witnesses unreliable.

The Prosecution uses a special fund, of unknown origin and amount, to provide money to witnesses and potential witnesses under vague and disputed criteria, the Defense alleged. Munyard asserted, “In some cases it is clear beyond doubt that this fund, this money, has been used to encourage witnesses to give evidence” rather than  for security purposes or to put them in a position where they are not disadvantaged because of their involvement with the Prosecution.

This has had the effect of tainting witness testimony and polluting the pool of potential witnesses available to the Defense, Munyard submitted. Do illustrate this point, Munyard related how someone at an outreach meeting in Sierra Leone went so far as to suggest that the Defense and Prosecution should bargain with witnesses for their testimony.

Munyard also highlighted how significant these sums of money are for most people living in post-conflict Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Moving on to discuss particular examples of this issue that came up in court, Munyard described payments that the Prosecution had given DCT-032. DCT-032 was a potential Prosecution witness before he became a potential Defense witness. According to the Defense, although DCT-032 never testified, he provided written evidence about having received over US $3000 in payments from the Prosecution over five months in 2008.

Witness TF1-375, the Defense noted, had been paid over US $4,000 and 825,000 leones (approximately $200 by today’s exchange rate) between September 2005 and May 2008. In addition, the Defense noted, from August 2006 until May 2008 this witness had simultaneously been under the care of the Prosecution and the Registry’s WVS. TF1-375 received assistance amounting to approximately US $10,000 during that period, the Defense submitted.

Munyard proceeded to highlight what the Defense considered were questionable aspects about those payments, including that they were round sums, did not comport with actual costs incurred, profits made by the witnesses from the payments, and how such payments can impact a witness’ testimony.

For example, Munyard highlighted a payment of $100 received by Prosecution witness TF1-375. TF1-375 had testified that this payment was an “appreciation” he received after a trip he took. “What is an ‘appreciation’ if it’s not a gift?” Munyard asked.

The Defense claimed that it was inevitable that such payments would influence witnesses to feel a sense of obligation to the party paying him or her.

Munyard suggested that this was demonstrated by inconsistencies in witness testimony and “unique” evidence that was not corroborated. For example, the Defense submitted that Prosecution witness Suwandi Camara was the only witness to claim that Taylor and RUF leader Foday Sankoh had been together in Libya. This “unique” fact, the Defense claimed, helped demonstrate that Kamara had lied because of the payments from the Prosecution. Indeed, Munyard claimed Camara was “another witness who we submit very clearly and very obviously has received financial incentives to tell stories that are favorable to the Prosecution.” 

Isaac Mongor’s Testimony Should be Completely Disregarded

Munyard then started a lengthy discussion criticizing Isaac Mongor’s credibility. The Defense claimed that the Court should completely disregard the testimony of Mongor and other Prosecution witnesses mentioned in the Defense final trial brief.

Mongor, the Defense submitted, was a witness who contradicted himself, told obvious lies, could not remember from one day to the next what his testimony was, and was a beneficiary of payments from the Prosecution.

Munyard went through several examples of what he submitted were gross inconsistencies in Mongor’s testimony. This included testimony about how he became a member of the NPFL, his claim that he was the RUF training commander at Camp Naama, evidence about the Magburaka arms shipment, and Taylor’s role in the January 1999 Freetown invasion. Munyard frequently disparaged Mongor’s testimony as “nonsense.” The Defense considered Mongor’s explanations for these inconsistencies implausible and untrue.

Munyard asked the judges to disregard the “pathetic collection of lies this witness gave the court.”

The Defense has now concluded its closing arguments to the court. Tomorrow, the judges will hear once again, and most likely for the final time, from the parties in the Charles Taylor trial.

39 Comments
  1. I am not a lawyer but common sense tells me, in a criminal case, the accuse is not guilty until proven beyond reasonable doubt. The defense have submitted hard copies of documents proving Taylor’s innocent. The prosecutors on the other hand based their evidence on hearsay with no document to back it. If there is true justice then Taylor is free man. The wiki leak documents said it all. George W Bush is sipping on Slurpee in Crawford, Texas after killing Iraqi and yet Africans allowed the white folks prosecute African leaders. That’s nonsense. Africa can prosecute their own leaders on African soil. Nigeria, Morocco and south Africa are capable of hosting it. It is about time American leaders face the ax for crimes against humanity.

  2. Case close!!!!!

  3. Taylor’s Defense Team,
    Please stop accepting and tossinf facts when it is convient for you.
    I want to know your exact stand on whether there was contact between Taylor and Sankor in Libya.

    Yesterday Griffiths submitted that whatever relationship (joint criminal enterprise) that was formed between Taylor and Sankor in Libya, ended in June 1992.
    Today, Munyard contested that prosecution witness Suwandi Camara, the only witness to connect Taylor and Sankor in Libya is lying because he was paid. To Griffith and Munyard; what is it? Did Taylor and Sankor have a joint criminal enterprise relationship beginning in Libya or not?

    Wanting to toss evidence because of percieved impropriety of payments seems like desperation. Defense team, keep contradicting each other and i hope the prosecution can pick up on all these blatant and foolhardly attempts by the defense to decieve the judges. A lie is difficult to maintain because it has no memory.

    All the mumbo jumbo uttered by Griffiths only served to rally Taylor’s fanatic cheerleaders and not any rational being. Griffiths keep playing on the emotions of your ludicrous base.

    • DAVID and GOLIATH.

      In essential in my opinion Mr. Munyard’s closing argument illustrates Internal and External forces stacked against President Taylor are erroneous based on false assumptions. For example, someone within the trial court passed on disinformation to agents of the prosecution team about Justice Sebutinde. Linda Greenfield, the American Ambassador accredited to Liberia wrote Fuggy Bottom with misinformation the threat to Liberia and the region if President Taylor is relieved. ellen, is on the one hand clandestinely poisoning Linda Greenfield’s mind about the danger if President Taylor is relieved. Steve Rapp wrote Linda Greenfield a scared letter, if funds were not made available (ASAP) to run the court President Taylor may walk. Uncle Sam immediately pumped over three million dollars based on Rapp’s letter to Greenfield to run the court for a short period of time. As alleged, Uncle Sam vehemently told the court to hastily bring the trial to an end because it was the last fund made available to the court. The prosecutions paid witnesses to lie; two of the judges on the trial court bench are straight up racist.

      Oh My God! “Except God’s watch over the city, the watchman watches but in vain.”

    • Nosirrah,
      The Prosecution alleged that Taylor and Sankor have a joint criminal enterprise relationship beginning in Libya. Suwandi Camara only said as Mr. Mundyard stated he saw them together in Libya. Suwandi Camara did not testify to any JCE relationship between Taylor and Sankor. Suwandi Camara only remember that he saw Taylor and Sankor together when the money he was receiving from the prosecution in Mr. Taylor trial was rolling in the way he wanted. Therefore Mr. Mundyard point out how Suwandi Camara and other prosecution witnesses begin to remember things about Mr. Taylor that are in favor of the prosecution, when they could not remember during their interviews, RUF trial and even during the Sierra Leone TRC hearing. Money played a big part of what they said about Mr. Taylor.

      Nosirrah, the Taylor’s fanatic cheerleaders has a lot to cheer about, they have confidence as the defense team do that Mr. Taylor has won his case. Do not get upset with the Taylor’s fanatic cheerleaders and the defense team because you have lost your confidence in the prosecution. In this case, one side will win and the other side will lose, right now, we do not know which side has won or lost.

  4. It is astounding how people would say defence submitted documentary evidence and prosecution didnt. It just shows how biased many of the Taylor supporters are on this board. What I cant figure out though is that they just love Taylor or hate anything related to “the west” which they falsely conflate with the prosecution and court. But the latest defences of Kaddaffi now, the silence on no ICC action for Gbagbo…I really think they will just believe any anti-western consipracy no matter how silly. Back to the case – NOT one document of defence verifies he was meeting Sam Bockarie for peace….not one. The notion is ludicrous.

    • Bundu,

      Please the issue here is not about Kadaffi, when we get to that bridge we’ll cross it. We are having difficulties understanding and accepting each other’s opinion for a trial that have been going on for over three years, it’s naïve for anyone to thing we’ll have solution for incident that happened in Libya less then a month.

      We would complicate things and make matter worst if we attempted to discuss two different unrelated issues at the same time.

      Thank you.

      • Big B – you are right and I shouldnt have raised it again…and agree that it is very early (although troubling) as to what is happening so far. I stand corrected and wont further conflate these issues…..as I am often frustrated myself when others conflate issues not directly realted to the trial.

    • Bundu,
      On most of your post you come up with talk about Charles Taylor’s meetings with Sam Bockarie which are not documented. What is more important is what is documented. (A) ECOWAS appointing Taylor as mediator (B) The UN approving Taylor as mediator. I was not aware of the UN’s position until Courtenay “Perry Mason” Griffiths showed the letter on yesterday. So Bundu you are on the losing side of justice. If there is a guilty verdict it is because this trial is political and not about true justice.

    • NOT one document of prosecution verifies he was not meeting Sam Bockarie for peace….not one. The notions base on ludicrous hearsay, circumstantial evidence and broad assumptions.

    • Bundu,
      Can you point a HEARSAY the defense used as evidence in this case?? Just one HEARSAY….now compare that to the prosecutors who had ALL resources to their fingertips…..And what HARD EVIDENCE(s) they presented in this case was SOLID/AIR TIGHT to convict Bundu??

      Bundu, this case was NOT for the defense to PROVE a damn thang in case you have forgotten.

  5. Nosirrah
    You got it all wrong and mixed up! The defense never asserted that Taylor and Sankor had any joint criminal enterprise or met in Libya. Yesterday, Griffiths presented the prosecution case that Taylor and Sankoh plotted in Libya to terrorize SL, and subsequently debunk the myth of such crude assertion by the prosecution. So get your facts correct, the defense has never accepted that Taylor and Sankoh met in Libya.

    Even the highest ranking insider star witness for the prosecution, former Liberian president Moses Blah who was vice president under Charles Taylor, was also once the chief inspector general of the NPFL, and was one of the original special forces that took training in Libya. Moses Blah was also Liberian Ambassador to Libya and he testified that Sankoh and Taylor could never have met in Libya during the training days of the NPFL. Blah testified that the NPFL forces met the SL forces in Libya, at the time the SL forces was nearing the end of their training under the command of Ali Kaba, not Foday Sankoh. Foday Sankoh, according to Moses Blah was not a senior executive member of the forces and could not go into any discussion with Taylor: simply put, Taylor never met Sankoh in Libya.

    According to Moses Blah, Taylor was a boss, at the top of the Liberian movement. Blah himself stated that he was more powerful than Sankoh in Libya, and that he knew Sankoh in Libya and that Sankoh and Taylor never met to discuss about any war business in Libya.

    This case is exactly what it is: TOTAL TOTAL NONSENSE!

    • King Gray,

      Well put to Nosirrah. I had maintained that Blah’s testimony was helpful to Taylor/Defense than it was to the Prosecution. The only twisted testimony that Blah’s gave was that concerning Bockarie, and we all know that it was Blah’s special assistant, Eugene Nagbe who delivered Bockarie’s body to Striker Funeral home. How that happened Blah could not revealed that. Apart from that story, Blah helped in dismissing prosecution claim especially the jce and the tripoli connection.

      Bnker,

      where are you? Interesting exchanges are occurring here brother, emerge.

      Jlay.

    • On March 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm, jfallahmenjor said: King Gray, the Bassa Chief, if this case is total nonsense as you claimed, why are you all having all these silly efforts striving to plead with the Law? You will fine out soon if this case is total nonsense or justice being sort for the thousands of victims who happen to be your own black brothers and sisters. You are not hurting the US or Britain citizens, so please get this in your brains King Gray.If taylor goes free for alleged crimes against humanity, so be it but please get it that you are not hurting Americans nor Westerners, okay? That is why I always question the mental status of some commentators on this site! Say something concrite and back it up with facts or convincing arguement than coming out of blue to call case ‘nonesense’ just because taylor said so even though taylor himself is full of nonsense!

    • You are absolutely right about one thing; Taylor did not meet Sankor in Libya. They meet in a prison cell in Freetown, Leone where Sankor was completing a commuted life sentence for treason against an earlier administration probably in the 1960′s. Taylor, for his part, was ordered arrested by then President Momo who reneged on an agreement with Taylor to use Sierra Leone as a staging ground for his revolution.

      After accepting an undisclosed amount of cash from Taylor to facilitate the invasion from within Sierra Leone, President Momo, for whatever reason, had a change of heart. Instead of informing Taylor that he could not go through with the deal, he ordered Taylor arrested and flogged 25 lashes everyday for a week. After a couple of days of these beatings, Mr. Taylor, the coward and weakling, seemed unable to sustain such beatings. That was when a grey-hair old man named Foday Sankor volunteered to take the beatings for Taylor because he (Sankor) was more accustomed to it. Taylor had never met Sankor before.

      Before his departure from Sierra Leone upon his release, Taylor promised Sankor that he would assist him in anyway possible whenever he was released from prison. Incidentally, Sankor had only three months left on his commuted sentence. Three months later, Sankor is in Burkina Faso with Taylor and introduced to Bliss Campore; then on to Libya and Introduced to Moammar Gadhafi. By the way, did I mention that the coup that brought Bliss Campore to power was headed by Prince Johnson and Charles Taylor of Liberia? Draw your own conclusions.

      • Dear AARON GARYU TARR,

        Would you care to validate your account?

        If so, why wasn’t this reported to the prosecution?

        Take care,

        Sekou

        • Sekou,
          Aaron is referring to the LIES told to the TRC of Liberia by Sen. Prince Johnson. Even the prosecutors couldn’t find a FOOT PRINT of Mr. Taylor moreso, JAILED IN FREETOWN….

        • Dear Noko4,

          I too remember Price Johnson making that claim at the TRC; what Price Johnson I believe was trying to put forth was the U.S.A. allowed for Mr. Sawyer to come and sign Mr. Taylor out of prison; that it was not an escape after all.

          Noko4, it is my prayer that civility shall come among the brethren of West Africa for a very long time.

          Hope to hear from you in April.

          Take care,

          Sekou

      • AARON GARYU TARR , what a very good guess work that was, i meant your entire assertion are baseless and far from the true. Where’re the evidence????

        • It is true what he say about prince Johnson and Taylor help bliss become president,but I don’t know about sankor and Taylor meeting in prison,cause Taylor never stay long in SierraLonne prison,cause Doe was going to get him,the big country took him out of sl soon,so the mission can be possible.

  6. Good to see sense prevailing over nonsense. But overall I would always suggest you leave the ignorant ones to wallow in their folly.

    • Dear rgk007,

      I am wondering whether you are connected with the site below?

      See link: http://www.last.fm/user/rgk007

      Take care,

      Sekou

      • Yes Sekou, that’s my phone radio link. You must be a detective. What do you say about Mr Anyah rubbishing the JCE link today?

        • Dear Rgk007,
          I think you have done a great job, and hope that the artists are gaining much support; I am yet to download a MP3 file.

          No I am not a detective but with the invent of the internet one can find any wonderful things.

          I think Mr. Anyah did a good job; he just ran out of time. See my post of March 11, 2011, Daily Summary Notes.

          I hope to hear from you next month.

          Take care,

          Sekou

  7. Can’t wait to see what next

  8. Case close!
    this man Charles Taylor has enought blood on his hands that it was very difficult for Griffith and Munyan to set him free. The decisions are pending; but rest assuerd Taylor is not and will not beat all of the 11 charges against him. Guilty it is..

  9. Our African brothers have decided to respect the territorial integrety of Libya and decided not to support any military action against Libya as it will make the situation worst and advice the libyian government to listen to its people and make significant constitutional changes ….DECISION BY A GROUP OF WISEMEN and they’ve have decided to send envoys to libya to help the brothers in that country to make peace,They have however,it seem to me leave the west african to sort out their own crap in ivory coast with their masters in the west, so in effect the scene is set for the slave minded people of africa to slaughter each other for the entertainment of their bloob thirst masters in europe to put their choice of leader in ivory coast and kill for democracy!!!!!Why?

    I personally think there should be a negotiated settlement .I hope the west africans can take time out to think at this stage.Think of Iraq,Afghanistan and ivory coast a case of imposing democracy by force backed or carried out by the west,now think of egypt,tunisia,yemen,bahrain and now saudi arabia no support for the peaceful demonstrators calling for democracy in this countries, but there is a lot of support by the west for armed rebels in libya.

    I invite the west african leaders and political class to observe this pattern of behaviour by the authority they seems to be so religiously following,i will call it western authority but these leaders will choose to call it UN authority……i am beginning to think west africans have been unfortunate to elect people that are not wise to the ways of the world at this crucial time in history….We in west africa had acted like moral prostitute following the views of the man with the money.

    In closing i will say West Africans are moral prostitute,that takes guidance from the rich westerners with a moral dilema.If the world depend on this two group we will all perish.

    • Cee,
      It’s beyond SIMPLE UNDERSTANDING…..the West just feel what they want she should get. We all saw the Tunsia and Eygpt CRIES…..nowhere were there GUNS in the streets….those citizens asked with olive branches in their hands for their leaders to step down.

      Compare that to Libya…..here we have ARM MEN fighting against the gov’t….and according to the West, that gov’t should lay down and cry…..really…..the Libyian gov’t should vanish because the West says so. How SILLY and STUPID is such thought…..NO FLY ZONE at the same time, the West is arming REBELS to overthrow….the same tactic used on Mr. Taylor.

      I hope the Libyian gov’t do a CLEAN SWEEP!!!!

  10. This might be of some interest to know that the dwarf from france is behind the ivory coast incitement and is now making a move in libya……see also cameron of britain!!!

  11. “We need to make sure Taylor is put away for a long time”—-Linda Greenfield, US Ambassador to Liberia. Uncle Sam said it, I believe it. It is not about guilt or innocence, it is about Uncle Sam doing what they do best; having her way with poor and weak countries.

  12. In as much as George W. Bush is not, then Taylor is not guilty. That’s is the verdict. There is no way around case. It is all a win. win for Taylor. Another oil rich African country is under attack in the name of democracy. Open your freaking eyes, you dumb African leaders. Pulled all your resources to help Libya.

  13. Ms Teagin. I would like some answers to this enquiry please. The film “War Don Don”, has it been screened publicly in Sierra Leone? When I say public I mean the masses of the country and not the priviledged few and their friends in the diplomatic community. Next, at the screening in New York was any member or representative of the RUF defence invited or in attendance? If the answer to both questions is in the negative can you tell us under what circumstance Mr Alpha Sesay was invited and on stage with a former prosecutor. Did he make mention of the film’s screening or importance on this site and as an outreach organization employee what steps has been taken to enlighten the people of Sierra Leone? I ask for obvious and important reason and as such await your response.

    • Dear rgk007,

      Unfortunately, I cannot answer your questions as I was not present at the event. I will alert Alpha to your inquiry.

      Kind regards,

      Taegin

    • Dear Rgk007,

      Tell me what you think of this piece on Alpha Sesay?

      See link: http://www.nd.edu/~ndlaw/alumni/ndlawyer/spring06/Spring2006.pdf

      Take care,

      Sekou

      • Dear Sekou,
        Thanks for the link. I shall check to see what it invovlves. Cheers.

    • RGk007,
      Thanks for these questions and apologies that i am only responding now. I have been travelling over the past week and only returned to my office yesterday. On the questions below, i am not sure whether the “War Don Don” documentary has been shown to the masses in Sierra Leone. I know that the producer of the documentary, Rebecca Richman Cohen, has organized several screenings around the world but i cannot say with certainty whether this includes a public screening to the masses in Sierra Leone.

      On whether a member of the RUF defense was invited or in attendance at the screenings, i can comfirm with a yes. Issa Sesay’s defense lawyer, Sareta Ashraph was invited and she was a penelist at several sreenings at which i was present. Sareta lives in Europe and she was flown to the US specifically to speak at the panel discussions which were organized after the screening of the documentary. I also recently spoke with Issa Sesay’s lead defense counsel Wayne Jordash who told me he attended a couple of screenings.

      On my participation on the panels, i was invited by the producer and the organizers of the various screenings to speak as a panelist because of the various relationships i have had with the court. These relationships include my work as the former Director of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Program, during which i monitored the trials at the Special Court in Freetown and facilitated the involvement of the media and civil society in the operations of the Court. Though the producer and organizers of the screenings knew of my work as a member of the Moris Kallon defense team in the RUF case, they invited me on the basis of my work with Sierra Leonean civil society as it relates to the Special Court’s activities in the country. So at those events, i was there mostly with Issa Sesay’s lawyer Ms. Ashraph, Steven Rapp (who was invited in his position as former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court) and Rebecca Cohen, the producer of the documentary. There was also an occassion when i was on the panel with Christopher Santora, a member of the Special Court’s prosecution team. (When Mr. Santora was on the panel, Mr. Rapp was not there).

      I did not mention the film’s screening on this site as i was not invited as a member of the panel in my capacity as a trial monitor in the Charles Taylor case. I also did not take any steps to elighten the people of Sierra Leone about the movie as i am not part of the team that produced the movie. They have the sole responsibility to publicize their movie and i certainly have not played any role in that, otherthan honouring invitations to serve as a panelist.

      I hope these address your concerns very well.
      Thanks,
      Alpha

  14. Mr Sesay,
    Indeed this reply addresses my concerns “very well” and I am sure I would be failing if I was not curious of what capacity you were in attendance and if you were only with one side of the court’s divide.
    however, this explanation, I believe should have been provided us before now as it would not be appropriate for US to be of the idea that a member of an independent body is cavorting with the antagonists (prosecution) while professing to be independent. So, once again just as you have stated, this addresses my genuine concerns “very well”. Cheers.
    P.S: I also wish to extend my appreciation to the site’s team for trying as much as possible to remain – as difficult as it may have been – objective.

  15. Truly speaking,Mr.Taylor is innocent of allegations level against him because the prosecutor did provide any tangible document that says Mr.Taylor did this,but just a hearsay.A hearsay cannot be used a defendant.I hope the judges will look into this matter appropriately without taking side with any party.If you follow this trial very carefully you see that some of the witness(es) were paid to give hearsay story to gain their which course is correct be use against an accuse.

  16. Nice and interesting article. i got many new thing about Defense and Crime. thank you for your valuable information.