August 19, 2008
This morning Charles Taylor was not in Court for a second day.
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths related to the Court that he visited his client Charles Taylor yesterday in the detention center. Taylor continued to express concern on the two extra security measures he would have to undergo in order to attend Court. Griffiths received intelligence that Dutch authorities were not showing flexibility towards lifting these measures due to the maximum security that is now in place during the transport of Taylor to and from this Court. Taylor has been anxious for the Court proceedings to discontinue, so he will submit himself to these extra security measures and will be in Court tomorrow on the condition that the Registry will continue to take steps to pressure the Dutch authorities to lift these two particular security measures.
Griffiths also informed the Court that Defense Counsel Terry Munyard had fallen ill and it can not be foreseen how long his illness will prevent him from attending Court. Munyard is responsible for the cross-examination of the next prosecution witness. Griffiths therefore suggested that, in case of Terry Munyard not having recovered by tomorrow morning, the Prosecution bring another witness to the stand.
Subsequently the judges conferred briefly and Presiding Judge Doherty asked Gregory Townsend, head of the SCSL The Hague Sub-Office, to give the outcome of the directions given to him yesterday. Townsend showed a report, ready to be distributed to the entire Court (the judges, the Prosecution and the Defense) and then gave an explanation: DV&O (Dienst Vervoer & Ondersteuning) is the transport and support service of the department of prisons, Ministry of Justice in The Netherlands, responsible for the transportation of all detainees in The Netherlands, including those detained for the SCSL (Special Court for Sierra Leone), the ICC (International Criminal Court) and the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). This is a gratis service the Dutch government provides for the SCSL. Since last week the level of security has been raised to the maximum level. This applies not only to the accused in this trial, but also to one ICC detainee and to one ICTY detainee. It is not due to any misconduct of Charles Taylor. DV&O has been able to exempt Taylor of all other maximum security measures, except these two. Only the Dutch security authorities know how long this maximum security level will last and they will not share that information with the Court. On a confidential basis Townsend has received intelligence as to why these maximum security measures are in place and is willing to tell the Court in Chambers (this means: the judges, without the presence of the Prosecution and the Defense and, obviously, also without the public).
Both Defense and Prosecution agree for this information to be shared in Chambers only, to enable the judges to make an informed decision.
Subsequently, Court was adjourned shortly before 10.00 a.m. and was back in session shortly after 11.00 a.m.
Presiding Judge Doherty said that the Trial Chamber had considered: 1) the report distributed to all parties; 2) a confidential report of the Registrar and 3) the oral explanation given in Chambers.
Doherty then informed the Court of the following: The Trial Chamber is still not satisfied with the reasons why Mr. Taylor is submitted to these kind of security measures and thinks this will lead to a serious disruption of the trial. The Trial Chamber directs the Registrar to find a speedy resolution and report back to this Court on Monday 25 August 2008 on what he has achieved. The Trial Chamber notes the remark of the Defense that Mr. Taylor will be in Court tomorrow and notes that, when Mr. Munyard has not recovered by tomorrow morning, the Prosecution will call to the stand another witness until his recovery.
At 11.15 a.m. Court is adjourned until tomorrow 9.30 a.m.