August 18, 2008
Today the Special Court for Sierra Leone resumed after its annual Judicial Recess.
Presiding Judge Doherty informed with Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths why Charles Taylor was not in Court today. Griffiths informed the Court that last Friday Gregory Townsend from the Registry and Silas Chekera from the Defense tended to Taylor who expressed his concerns about a raised level of security during his transportation to Court starting this Monday, while the security risk was not related to himself. There are two particular procedures to which Taylor objects:
1. during the transport certain measures cause him sensory deprivation (on request of Taylor Griffiths did not go into detail here);
2. during the transport Taylor will be chained around his waist, leading him to feel like a leashed animal, which he finds particularly degrading.
Griffiths continued to say that a heightened level of security has caused difficulties in the past, while in those cases it always proved to be a false alarm. The accused would like to see the matter investigated and will not come to Court when these two measures are in place. Griffiths drew attention to the impact these measures may have on Taylor having a fair trial:
1. to the public it may appear that Taylor himself poses a threat;
2. having to undergo these measures will hinder the accused in the attention he can give to the proceedings and therefore also hinder the accused’s advisers.
Griffiths therefore applicated that the proceedings be adjourned until these particular difficulties have been resolved.
Lead Prosecutor Brenda Hollis replied that under rule 60 (A) (i) of procedure and evidence of this Court the accused had the opportunity and the right to come to Court and it was his choice not to atttend. Taylor waived his right to come to Court and these proceedings should not be held hostage to the will of the accused.
Head of the SCSL The Hague Sub-Office Townsend said that on 13 August 2008 Charles Taylor was informed that security during transportation would raise from medium level to high level, due to a situation having to do with another ICC detainee. This morning Taylor declined to fill in the form in which he waivers his right to be present in Court.
Subsequently Court was adjourned at 9.50 a.m. for the judges to confer in private. Court was back in session at 10.30 a.m. when Presiding Judge Doherty informed the Court about their decision:
The trial proceedings hitherto have been very smoothly and Taylor has conducted himself very reasonably. The upgrading of the level of security is due to factors non relating to his behaviour. Proceedings would not continue well without the benefit of instruction of the accused. It appears the matter would be capable of a resolution. The Registrar is asked directly to investigate the situation with an urge to resolve and report to this Court at 9.30 a.m. tomorrow.
Subsequently Court is adjourned at 10.45 a.m. until tomorrow 9.30 a.m.