International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Defense Lawyers say 80-Year Sentence Excessive for Charles Taylor

Defense lawyers for convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor have told Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) judges in The Hague that the prosecution’s request for Taylor to serve a maximum of 80 years in jail is “disproportionate” and “excessive.”

In their sentencing submission filed on May 10, 2012, defense lawyers noted that “the 80-year sentence advocated by the Prosecution is manifestly disproportionate and excessive; it is not justified.”

On April 26, SCSL judges found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of all crimes charged in the 11 count indictment against him. The judges noted that Taylor was not liable for the actions of the rebel forces in Sierra Leone under the doctrines of command responsibility or joint criminal enterprise. The judges, however, found that Taylor was guilty of planning specific rebel attacks in three Sierra Leonean towns in late 1998 to early 1999, including attacks on the diamond rich-town of Kono and the country’s capital Freetown.

In a sentencing brief filed on May 3, 2012 the Prosecution asked the judges to sentence Taylor to a maximum jail term of 80 years. The former Liberian President’s defense team has asked the judges to do otherwise.

“What amounts to an ‘appropriate sentence,’ the Defense submits, will not ultimately be determined by the number of years imposed, as the Prosecution suggests, but rather more crucially, by the Trial Chamber’s reasoned approach, which should clearly set out the basis upon which the penalty is imposed,” the defense argue in their brief.

According to the defense, “An ‘appropriate sentence,’ we submit, is one that is rationally contrived, objectively reasoned and justifiable in law and on the facts of the case. It is not one that is simply designed to have Mr. Taylor ‘put away for a long time,’  as others have contrived.”

The defense further note in their sentencing brief that Mr. Taylor should have the benefit of mitigation for several reasons including his role in the peace process in Sierra Leone, his willingness to step down from the Liberian presidency in order to save his country from more atrocities, the time that he has already served in detention and the manner in which he has cooperated with the Court during his trial. The defense also referenced Mr. Taylor’s age and the fact that he is a family man as reasons why he should benefit from mitigation.

Both the prosecution and the defense will make oral submissions on sentencing before the judges this Wednesday, May 16. Mr. Taylor will also have the opportunity to address the Court for about 30 minutes.

The judges will deliver their verdict on Mr. Taylor’s sentence on May 30, 2012.

 

80 Comments
  1. I remain a little confused about what Taylor was and was not found guilty of. My understanding is that he was not found guilty of being part of a joint criminal enterprise for any of the charges, nor was he found guilty of ordering any of the things he is charged with. But he was found guilty of aiding and abetting. Is this correct? If so, how is being found guilty of having planned something different from joint criminal enterprise?

    Thanks,

    Shelby

    • Alpha,

      Please help to answer Shelby questions. Thanks

    • Dear Shelby,

      Mr. Taylor was found guilty under the theory of individual criminal responsibility for planning the attacks in Kono, Makeni, and Freetown. He was also convicted of aiding and abetting all 11 charges against him (also under individual criminal liability).

      Mr. Taylor was found not guilty of all 11 charges under the theories of command responsibility and joint criminal enterprise. Joint criminal enterprise requires a common plan, design, and purpose, and the judges found there was not enough proof to convict on this theory of liability.

      I hope this helps.

  2. Hi Shelby,
    Your question is part of the confusion in the Dutch Republic. Since “English not my primary language,” my mouth’s full! I think these people are play by the newest law book specifically designed for Charles and hopeful sooner than later, Laurent Gbagbo. Whatever these sons of Africa has to go through, spetactors like you deserve your due of understanding of this matter. The outcome was predictable long before the horses took off. But as u know, what we’ve been waiting for is how they ought to fit the verdict in the frame of justice without rough scratches leaving injuries of foul plays on the art of International Law and fairness.

    Let’s wait and see…

  3. Shelby,
    There is no rhyme or reason to any of the judges verdict decisions. Remember that Justice Sow informed the world that they never even deliberated. You are well aware Shelby that after the United States government spent tens of millions of dollars on this trial that they were not going to let Mr. Taylor walk out the door. Thats all there is to this sham of a trial.

  4. He was found guilty of a planning role in the January 1999 Freetown massacres together with Sam Bokarie; on all the other counts his role was found to have been that of aiding and abetting. On two other criteria for guilt assessed by the court, those of Joint Criminal Responsibility and Command Responsibility, his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt on the remaining charges. I hope this helps.

  5. The defense submission has always been reasonable inline with criminal law and international justice. I am sure if this case was about justice, the trial would have been over two years before now. It is clear that the powers want to keep Mr. Taylor away from Liberia for the rest of his life, but as long as there is God, those behind this political trial will surely go to hell.

  6. Taegin,

    Will please arrange with the prosecutor and defense teams to set a date on which either party would take questions from us on this site as was done in the past. Thanks for being there.

    • Dear Harris K Johnson,

      Currently both teams are busy preparing for the sentencing hearing and judgment, however, we can look into this after the sentencing judgment has been announced.

      Thank you.

  7. And the plot thickens. Truth only requires just “one” day so lies and injustice can continue having a field day.

  8. Folks,

    May 13, 2012.

    Allow me to veer from our regular postings to venture into what may appear tangent but serious stuff.

    Many good innocent mothers were brutalized, violated, or even killed during the absurd carnage in Liberia and Sierra Leone. They were the helpless victims of patriarchal dominance, male coercion, and the diabolic instinct of men (please feel free to differ, my male friends). Those mothers were loving, caring, and protective of their kids. Some of them died while caring for or protecting their children. They gave their life for their kids. Let us pause to remember their heroism and celebrate their lives and contributions to humanity by producing great men and women to continue the human race. Let us also pause to say happy Mothers’ Day to them and all mothers in our world.

    By the way, Alpha and Teagin, is there any data on how many women were killed during the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil war?

    Peace, friends, peace.

    • davenport
      there you name it.
      instead of repeating the same lies over and over again, the taylobans would rather go inside and think for once of the victims.
      up to now, they were only laughing at victims, just like noko1to10.

  9. poor taylor
    he is a family man and old? They didn’t mention that he is broke before the court, but that his children lead a happy life in europe, which normally is not for free. and that tupee taylor lives in wealth in liberia.
    thousands of victims were or are fathers and mothers and old too.
    what a dumb reasoning of the defense, i hope they continue like this. in this manner, CT will get 80 years for sure.
    detention duration before conviction – in every law around the world – is counted off the senctencing period and will not mean, that the court will speak 60 instaed of 80 years.
    CT stepped down because the whole world (and especially africa, the AU) demanded that. because a warship was near freeport monrovia, because rebels stood before monrovia and because he thaught he could go with his wealth to nigeria. and surely not because he is a man of peace. if he was, he had several years to install peace before he stepped down. instead he left a wartorn country, which he sucked to death.
    cooperation during his trial. what a joke: he lied, he denied the court (just like milosevic and breivik), he slowed down the process and he costs the international community a bunch of money, which could better be used to help victims of his crimes.

    • sorry, i don’t know if it is really tupee or some other wife of taylor, who is still in his favour and lives off the people of Liberia.

    • Thanks Swizz. You are very right in pointing out to the Defense Team’s flavour coloring of taylor as family man when the victims are totally over looked! Who cares what his family go through due to 80 years sentence? This guy never had mercy upon anyone but Himself, and to plead for mercy for this Monster gets me angrier!
      But you know what, Swizz..? It does not matter if sentence is reduced to 40 years, taylor will never come back to Africa! These support groups will eventually fade away and go into oblivion! They have no guts to start rebellions because of this because it will be the biggest mistake of their pathetic lives they have lived. We will then have opportunity to speed up rounding them up and doing to them as they did others! These guys will join Joseph Kony next ..because this the life they crave for..!

      • The only reason Liberia is enjoying a fragile peace is due to the fact warmongers are in power. As soon as they are voted out of office and the TRC is enforced, they will go to Sierra Leone/ Guinea to plan war. This time around will not be like the first.

        • big b
          happy we do have international justice, don’t you think? they will think twice before entering a sovereign country.
          CT is the proof.

        • Aki, you’re so dead on point! Looking at people in power, I can’t help but notice how sick this world is. Demons becomes angels, and criminals are righteous peacemakers. Once they get all they want from the land, they might not cause hell. Butif there be one more thing they need, they’ll let no one stnad in their way.

      • fallah
        luckily, the taylobans are nothing without their murdering leader, which will serve his term in prison. i only wish he could serve that sentence not in a nice cosy cell with tv, dvd, maybe even internet, three meals a day for free and warm shelter in the UK.
        instead i wish him to a wet horror-cell in, let’s say, congo, where you pay for a good meal.

    • Swizz,
      Let us wait until Wednesday. Listen to Charles Taylor speak and learn. Those who have ears let them hear.

      • aki
        CT was only lying, is only lying, and will only be lying, if it is thursday or saturday.
        i think even i would better ly, than testimony about cannibalism.

    • Mr.Taylor’s children are here in Liberia living comfortably in their White Flower palace next to my residence in oldest Congo Town. We will never leave Liberia for another country, we have so much to do for our people with or without Mr. Taylor.

  10. Sierra Leone opposition candidates says he will sue Ellen Sirleaf Government.

    http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/article_200520247.shtml

    • Garbage! Focus on the Appeal, for God’s Sake, Aki..you’er pathetic!

      • There you go again fallah. What do u mean garbage? You know u are in favor of that acticle. But we are waiting for the day that he will sue the GOL.Who is Julius Maada Bio infact? Another wind blow ! He should be thinking how we are planning to sue them too for sending 30 sierra leoneans to fight during november 12 coup in monrovia.

        This is a lesson for Ellen. This nonsense can never take place in ivory coast.. so go ahead fallah and fool around this site.

      • J. Fallah Menjor,

        You and the prosecution team are so disappointed that Mr.Taylor was only found guilty of the lesser charge of aiding and abetting. You will be even more disappointed when the sentencing is done on May 30th.

        • Indeed, the sentencing will shock many….God is behind that Mr. Taylor……

        • ebreem
          if god really exist, he will send your lovely taylor right to hell.
          to a place where it is not dry and warm, but damn hot. to a place where you do not get 3 meals a day for free, dvd’s and maybe internet-connection for the next 80 years.

    • aki
      nobody trusts in liars.

    • Aki,
      Why you think we’re HOODWINK about the time frame?? One reason, to EXCUSE Madame Johnson-Sirleaf….if they had gone back to the begining(90) when the SL war started, then she gets to be part of the AIDING and BIDDING….she provided $10K remember??

  11. A good point brought out in the sentencing brief filed by the Defense. They stated the fact that Mr. Taylor told Sam Bockerie to make the operation on Freetwon fearful does not mean he wanted crimes against civilians commited. The Defense made the analogy of when the United States invaded Iraq. We all remember the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield talking about “Shock and Awe” the likes the world has never seen. That didn’t mean that President Bush should be held accoutable for the crimes an Abu Grahib prison.

  12. I read the “Sentencing Brief on Behalf of Charles Gankay Taylor” brilliant legal arguments. The defense overwhelmed the trial court with preponderance of general and specific judgment in cases that were ruled on subsequent to Mr. Taylor verdict. Generally, in previous cases decided by the court defendants who were found guilty on more severe crimes than Mr. Taylor were given lesser sentence. The prosecution is asking the court to sentence Mr. Taylor to 80 years for aiding and abetting, whereas, in previous cases defendants who were found guilty of Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) and other serious Index Crimes were given a much lenient sentence. In my opinion, this is a personal vendetta the prosecution has against Mr. Taylor to have asked the court for such unreasonable sentencing.

    The defense gives specific example to the Perisic case,” who served as the Commander of the Yugoslavia People’s Army.” Perisic’s case is probably the most comparable to the present case. The court found Perisic guilty, and sentences him to 27 years.

    The defense laid out the comprehensive sentencing guidelines from other SCLS cases for the trial court to take a look at for sentencing purposes. However, it’s a waste of time. This court has conquered with all motions put forth by the prosecution from the start. For example, the Noemi Campbell’s subpoena, the prosecution rested and the court allowed the prosecution to reopen. A more recent example, is the April 26 verdict for postponement by the defense. The court ruled on the exact prosecution rebuttal, the ruling was DNA of the prosecution’s rebuttal.

    The sentencing brief requested by the court is nothing but show. The persecution and the court are in cohorts, these are group of people united and working together, in my opinion. If the judges failed to deliberate for over a year and came up with a guilty judgment, Mr. Taylor is “Screwed.”

    • Big B,
      The SHOCKING part to this case is there is NO SHOCK…..we all knew this case was just a SHOW to fool the FOOLISHS…….

      Mr. Taylor I have you SAY what you have to in 30 minutes for it will be the LAST TIME maybe we hear you speak….The appeal portion is all TWIST, TOAST and TURN…..

      • noko1to10
        the most important thing taylor ever said was the following:
        “it is important to understand”.
        as it ever was unimportand to understand.
        that’s all a warlord says when he’s on big air.
        and anyway noko1to10
        why don’t write some loveletters per airmail directly to your blessed slaughterer?
        this is not a site about love-stories, honey.
        and don’t forget, nobody takes you serious since you laughed at victims and changes your name more often than your underwear.
        kisses

        • Swizz,
          I noticed you’re NEW on this site but let’s RESPECT each other views I beg. I have NO NOISE about how you feel and write…..accord me the same.

    • big b
      you did not mention that the court did not take notice of previously adjudicated facts, which was in favour of the defense. lots of evidences out of the RUF-cases were therefore inadmissible.
      you did not mention that the court would not agree in written testimonies, also in favour of the defense. This caused, that one third of the witnesses couldn’t be heard in Den Haag, due to respect the witnesses wellbeing and to save costs.
      and: you did not mention judge sebutinde, who voted lots of time for the defense.
      to the assumption that the prosecution paid witnesses: it’s deliberated in the judgement which still led to the conviction of taylor as war criminal. it can’t therefore be that decisive.
      stop complaing about vendettas and the west. there are professionals at work, they are well educated, they are widely known as capacities. they are not some wouldliketobe jurists.

      • Whatever!

        • big b
          is this all what’s left for you to say if you are confronted with real facts? Whatever?
          sexual slavery – whatever
          terrorism – whatever
          chopped off limbs – whatever
          murder – whatever
          cannibalism – whatever
          what nice guys you taylobans are!!

  13. just go on to defend a warlord.
    but don’t come crying when he is really coming back and more bloodshed will take place.
    don’t cry if happens to you or your family or your friends, what happenend to all the victims of a so called leader.
    when do you realise? Only when a gun is pointed at your very nose?
    Let’s forget about international justice and let’s get back to dark medeavel. Every one should get what he can.
    Without respect for human lifes, whitout respect for human rights.

    • swiss, from your comments I can tell your are for justice and you don’t give a heck whether if it’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, kabba, Prince Johnson, etc… You are almost a realist. lol. swiss, I believe everyone should be held accountable for his/her actions. You do the crime, you do the time. However, to assumed someone committed a crime, without the prosecution proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was indeed committed by the accused posed a serious problem for the justice system. What if, it was you (swiss) in Mr. Taylor’s shoes; would you like to be found guilty of a crime that was not proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt? The evidence was not there for a guilty verdict. That’s what We the People have been saying, this case is political, and it’s wrong to play politics with human lives.

      • Let me jump in here, Big B; Did I hear you say ‘taylor was not found guilty beyond reasonable doubts?’ How did the Judges reach a verdict with all the reasonal doubts you and your cohats have in your brains? You guys are ‘unbelievable’ and shameless. However, I like how you, Harris,Aki,Lib Peking, and Jose, Rodriguez, spanish african, have exposed your ignorance on this site for all to see. You all seem to have served taylor with loyalty and butt kissing under oath to never go ‘astray’ even if he is in chains as now. That’s great to have such loyal guys, but just remember, whatever you did to people wrongly during taylor reign, will come to pass; as I always pointed to you guys:”Law Of Karma” for whatever good or bad you have done to others, will come back to you in kind!” You see what has happened to taylor…? He will sit on his butts in prison for the rest of his pathetic life and others enjoying the wealth he gathered through ill way, and regret how he came to this point! I jfallahmenjor have lived to bear witness of this evil man’s end..what a last laugh!

        • fallah, two serious breached in the law happened. Firstly, the prosecution won a case that wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt and the Judges came up with a guilty verdict without deliberating. The court should be held in contempt.

      • big b
        only taylobans say that they didn’t prove it beyond all reasonable doubts.
        the court did prove it. how come you all know better, although you do not have the insight a court has?
        just rely on what the defense says is a one sided opinion. the court is paid to find justice and has to be neutral. the defense is paid to take sides.

      • Just last month, a group estimated as 300 rebels from Sierra Leone marched into Liberia, upper Lofa and burnt schools, clinics and homes. Their reason for the autocracies, they believed one of their comrades was murdered by Liberians dwellers around the area. After investigation by the Liberian National Police, there was no killing of any S.L. national. The matter was swept under the rug, and nothing happening to those bandits.

        Last week another attacked on Liberia’s soil by Sierra Leoanes, in Foya District, Lofa, County. Sierra Leoanes marched into Lofa and burned houses. This madness has to stop. The west needs to leash their dogs. The bitterness of war is over, but Sierra Leoanes shouldn’t take Liberians for granted.
        Link to the recent attack.. http://frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3148:angry-sierra-leoneans-burn-lofa-town-lawmaker-claims&catid=67:news&Itemid=144

  14. Whether CT gets 80 years as recommended by persecution or not is of less substance to me at this time simply because he will serve time into his old age. I desire CT puts his intellect to work and have a biographer write his memoirs. I am interested in knowing why a Bentley educated Liberian got to where he is today.

    • davenport
      what does bentley educated mean?

      • Swizz,
        Bentley is a fine liberal arts college located in America’s educational center – the state of Massachusetts. Bentley, like my renowned alma mater, trains individuals to make constructive contributions to the advancement of our civilization. Why would someone like CT with said fine training apparently sink so low (I am using this phrase with caution) to enmesh himself in this predicament? I am just inquisitive. Any thoughts, Swizz?
        Peace.

  15. Taegin, Sekou and Alpha,

    I will be the happiest person on earth today, were any of you post a link where I can download Mr. Taylor’s peach to the court today. Thanks for being there always.

  16. i don’t really care how many years taylor gets. if he only stays away from a peaceful and rich african continent.
    the point is that the time of impunity is definitely over. if not in the US, it is in africa. at least in africa, what i was long waiting for. the colonialists got away unpunished. to many leaders got away unpunished – the examples are best known.
    the people in africa can only win once impunity is over. it means that leaders do have to comply widely with human rights. only the hardest capitalist is not in favour of human rights. Because human rights chain him on the way to get rich.

  17. I believe that the court knew from the onset that Mr. Taylor was innocent. Like Shelby said, I am also confused as to what Mr. Taylor is actually guilty of since, in fact, the judges could not find him guilty on the “CHARGES” levied. This has been injustice at the highest levels mixed with international politics.

    • Your ‘belief ‘ is not “fact”, Ebreem. Your belief is simply your ‘opinion’ just to let you understand between those two before I move on to addressing you!
      There is no injustice here, Ebreem, and there is no international politics here, except if this is your concept of justice.
      Secondly, this trial is not about West trying to get certain leaders based on prejudice, malice, or racism. This trial is about joint enterprises between taylor’authority, and the RUF over the deal that taylor provides arm and RUF gives raw diamonds in return. The result was what happened in Sierra Leone and Liberia! Mass, rapes, tortures, murders,cannibalism, and taylor providing ‘safe houses’ in Liberia for these criminal bedfellows, such as Sam Boakarie and others.
      Thirdly, there are other leaders on trial too, and they are not Africans or Blacks! Just today, if you read the world news, you will find out about ‘The Butcher of Bosnia’ Ratko Mladic, former Bosnia Serb general on trial for genocide, for leading the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica!
      I hope you comprehend this and not just come on this site to throw in garbage! We know you guys are paid to come in numbers to protest by any means because taylor is capable of making payments for public opinion that way in the past. However, this time around we are here to stop any nonesense from you guys! Have a Nice Day, Ebreem!

      • fallah, for the sake of argument, I’ll agree with all what you said, but for the way how Mr. Taylor eloquently contrast the war in Iraq and Liberia what’s your take on George Bush unilaterally going into Iraq after the Security Council voted down a resolution not to go into Iraq? Where is George Bush and where is Charles Taylor? Maybe I am wrong, politics has no role to play.

        God bless Africa!

        • Big B
          Bush is a warcriminal too, we all know that.
          just because one can’t get hold of bush, it doesn’t mean, that all criminials should walk free.
          it’s about impunity.

  18. The court should actually give Mr. Taylor an acquittal verdict. It is so obvious that Mr. Taylor was set up by big international hands who were also “MAJOR” supporters of the war in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Taylor was the “Master Mind” or “bore the greatest responsibility”, so why is he still in the Hague?

  19. Sekou,

    One of the posts above was in respond to swizz, and the other, I was thinking why the court did not asked the photographer to also share the court photos with the press in Liberia.

    • And what about the court sharing photographs on cannibalism that witnesses provided, Harris K. Johnson, the man who lives near whiteflower mansion where taylor children stiil reside? You must be taking care of the property for taylor if you live that close to taylor whiteflower, Harris, this can’t be a coincidence! Also, it would be nice to show photos of taylor bathing in blood of victims to avoid bullets and many other satanic worships introduced in Liberia during your reign of terrow, Harris. Somebody needs to shut your big mouth soon, Harris! You are dispecable! No one lives in white flower and you know this liar!

      • Jfallahmenjor,

        You must be out of your mind to think that no body lives in Mr. Taylor’s compound in Monrovia. This shows how far you are from events in Liberia. As for my big mouth, maybe you send ellen to come and shut it. Fallah, those that know Harris Johnson know the kind of man he is. I have worked hard, and now living comfortably with respect at home in Liberia.

        • johnson
          i do not know what “funny” man one is by backing a terrorist, one who held sex slaves for his pleasure and who eat flesh of men.

      • fallah
        well said brother!!
        you got my full support.
        we all know with what kind of people we’re messing here.

        • swizz,
          Those are your worlds. I don’t care what you say about Mr. Taylor and us, but the fact remains that we are living better life at home in Liberia. We are tax payers not children like you and your bro jfallah.

      • J Fallah Menjor,
        Taylor’s wife and children live in White Flower and are living much better than you.

        • Which means they are happier than Jfallahmenjor,free to move and visit convicted daddy, come in public, and talk like I do without worries,Wow, you have demonstrated another ignorance to the highest, AKI. Ellen needs to seize whiteflower that was built with ‘blood money!’ and kick them out if in fact it is true they live there. However, Aki, Jewel Taylor livesin Bong County except if whiteflower was hers in divorce settlement, but however, it does not matter..because the man who built it shall never have the pleasure of living in it. Strangers shall take over his domain and do this in daylight,Aki!

        • Aki,

          You have said it all, but let me add a little. They far better than jfallah and his likes.

        • do they live better because they profit out of crimes committed on the people of S.L. and Liberia?
          They live with shame for the rest of their lifes.

  20. I DO BELIEVE THAT IT T

  21. charles taylor said it all today! nothing left out fallah mayonnaise . Even the judges knew they were exposed.. He said they handicap .. Brilliant taylor said it all today..

    Go ahead America bring down a hero..

    • lib pekin
      do you know how a cutted off limb looks like?
      do you know how a mistreated woman feels like?
      do you know how it feels like to see your mom and dad slaughtered?
      brilliant taylor, hero taylor – you do not know who you cherrish here.
      once again: what has he done for liberia, that you call him this?
      did he build roads? schools? industries? domocracy? votes? electricity?
      if he only gave you some of his wealth, it doesn’t mean he’s a hero, in case you don’t know by yourself.

  22. Mr. Taylor will live and come to LIB

  23. It is incredible what human beings can do. I have thought many times, animals would not do this.

  24. “Defense Lawyers say 80-Year Sentence Excessive for
    Charles Taylor