Another Defense Lawyer Must Question Charles Taylor If Lead Counsel Remains Ill, Judges Say

Charles Taylor’s defense team must find a substitute lawyer to continue the direct examination of Mr. Taylor if his lead defense counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, does not recover from his illness by next Monday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges said today.

The trial of Mr. Taylor for his alleged role in Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil conflict was adjourned for a second day in a row because Mr. Griffiths’ illness prevented him from appearing in court both yesterday and today.

When court resumed today, Co-Counsel in Mr. Taylor’s defense team, Morris Anyah, informed the judges that doctors have diagnosed Mr. Griffiths with an infection and pneumonia, in addition to the sore throat he was said to have contracted yesterday.

Presiding Judge, Richard Lussick, after conferring with his colleagues, told the defense that a substitute counsel will be necessary to continue Mr. Taylor’s examination if Mr. Griffiths does not recover from his illness by next Monday. This, he said, will not jeopardize Mr. Taylor’s fair trial rights.

Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues on Monday.


  1. Tracy,
    Now that the trial has been cancelled for the week.We are even more anxious to analyze Mr. Rapp’s interview with you.

    1. Hi Aki – I agree with you! It is a very opportune time to discuss the interview with the chief prosecutor while the courtroom proceedings are adjourned. We will post the first set of questions later this afternoon. I will look forward to the conversations that it provokes on the site.


  2. Hi Tracey,
    I just got back and here we are: “substitute lawyer to continue the direct examination of Mr. Taylor if his lead defense counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, does not recover from his illness by next Monday”. Now he is down with infection and pneumonia, in addition to sore throat he has contracted. well, sore throat contracted from what, where and when so soon are something so interesting to also know. Man, this case is something very special for the African Continent. We just hope that he gets back in time to witness fair trail here.
    I am very concern about his life at the moment.
    Best to you

    1. Dolo – yes I agree with you — I think we are all concerned about Mr. Griffiths’ welfare. Pnuemonia sounds terrible. We hope he recovers soon.

      1. Tracey,
        Don’t you think the microphone mr.Griffith is using may have been poisoned? Can the court get some investigators and doctors to check please? Also can mr. taylors microphone
        be investigated too please… Why is it that no other person in that court room is getting sick, but Griffith.. HELLO!!!????

        1. Hi Noko5,

          It is worrying that Mr. Griffiths has been ill a few times in recent weeks. But at the moment, I don’t think it is cause for an investigation or for concern beyond, of course, the concern for Mr. Griffiths’ own health and well-being. Honestly, I do think if Mr. Taylor’s defense team had the slightest worry that Mr. Griffiths was being poisoned — by his microphone, food, or any other way — they would not hesitate to raise it with the judges or say it publicly. But Mr. Griffiths’ own defense team and his own doctor have put it down to illness that can happen to anyone. And Mr. Griffiths himself came out on the BBC World Service Trust a few weeks ago after he suffered from food poisoning and told listeners that he was not poisoned by anyone.

          Noko5, we would be as concerned as anyone if Mr. Griffiths’ team raised the spectre of poisoning. We would also be wanting such an allegation to be investigated thoroughly. But as yet, if Mr. Griffiths and his team are not raising that worry. Until we hear such a concern from them, we just have to hope Mr. Griffiths gets better and can be back in the courtroom soon (hopefully by Monday when the trial resumes!)



    1. In the midst of this Griffin’s illness I wanted to use this opportunity to strike a point here. Most of the people who want to see Taylor prosecuted, especially Liberians are the very people that are opposing the TRC recommendations which call for the prosecution of all those who caused the war in Liberia. This line of reasoning is very strange that these Taylor HATERS want justice for the people of SL but no justice for the Liberian people.

      But we know why they are cheer leaders for the prosecution’s politically motivated and weak case. They are afriad of Mr. Taylor continue popularity in Liberia and they are comfrotable with the political leadership currently in Liberia which is no different from a gang of thieves disguise as a government. Since Madam Ellen Johnson came to power , we only see that CORRUPTION is now her number one LOVER. During her campaign she said that CORRUPTION was her number one enemy but everyday she makes weak excuses and excuses about why she cannot prosecute her corrupt officials.

      At the onset of her presidency, nearly $1 million dollars was transfer from government coffers and the transfer deal was traced to President Ellen Johnson’s computer that is in her home. The president claimed that it was one of her friend, one Finda Kromah from SL that did the money transfer without her knowledge. Finda later denied the allegation and the committee the president appointment to investigate that matter went dead with some kind of false findings. The second main incident that directly involve president Ellen Johnson was the confiscation of a Nigerian chief $500,000. The then justice minister who is now the socalled Anti-Corruption Commission said that the Nigeria chief was a drug dealer but police reports show a very different picture that the man did not declare the money at the airport.

      Notwithstanding the government siezed the man’s money and later the new justice minister at that time Phillip Banks claimed that the Nigerian Attorney-General granted the Liberian government permission to use the money. The Nigeria AG responded that he did not give the Liberian governemtn any permission and did not have the authority to do so. The president herself publicly defended the use of the money and her national security advisor, another Libyan trained rebel leader, Dr. Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh reported that $50,000 of the Nigerian man’s money was use to construct a fence around the president’s personal home and the rest of the money was use for security operations. How was that possible when the Liberian government provided budgeted allotment for security and moreover it is UNMIL that is actually providing for the nation’s security?

      The third incident that directly implicates president Ellen Johnson in the CORRUPTION of the nation resources has to do with the $1 millon national bank issue. This money was transfered from the national bank to a private bank account of an individual using a letter written on a letter head belonging to the president’s office. The president has deny any involvement in this incident but the problem is this. How was it possible for the national bank to simply transfer $1 million dollars to a private bank account of an oridinary person without verification from the president’s office? Is that how the bank process works where anybody can just bring a simple letter bearing the signature of the president and be given money?

      Everybody in Liberia knows that it is impossible for the national bank to just give any body large sum of money withour verification especially if that person was using the president’s name. There would have been prior arrangements from the president’s office and such letter would not have directly come from the president’s office. This national bank money transfer further exposes a new CORRUPTION SCHEME that has been going on in the government of Ellen Johnson . That this was a normal way the president has been getting money from the bank and mayber someone in the bank knew about this process and decided to exploit it. But overall , it exposes the CORRUPT PRACTICES of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson. The world needs to STOP supporting this woman because she is a FRAUD.

      1. Thank bro King if we have 10 liberian like you in each community in libera it could be good for the common man. Ellen said on NPR radio in the USA she can’ t let go any corrupt person in her government because she has on one to replaced that person. yes tell the fool that.

      2. KING, KING, KING!

        Wow! While there are some who want to see CT and all those who committed the worse of atrocities prosecuted, I am a strong advocate for War Crimes court in Liberia. I think Andrew can bear witness to my avowed support for this. Some truly are, as you termed, it “Taylor Haters”, some of us try to allow cool heads prevail. I think all warlords should be punished. It will send a message that will discourage future acts. I think the act of dissecting pregnant women, beheading people in front of family members and ask that they laugh is inexcusable, rape, sexual slavery these are all acts that should be punished. Frankly, I like Ellen, but I will not blindly support anyone, if it is recommended that she faces the courts too, so be it. No one is above the law. What I’ve learned about the power hierarchy here in the USA. If you believe in God, Allah, or a supreme being, this is the first tier; the second tier, are the courts, then everyone falls below that (third tier).

        Corruption is so much the fabric of Liberian society that it is eroding our social well-being while at the same time leaving our nation bankrupt. There will always be corruption, unless we strength our judicial system (Andrew and I are proponent of this). Until that is done, there is no way we can stop it. You see, laws are established and enforced to discourage these acts. No one has been punished and for corruption, so while should anyone stop? I am not condoning this at all…what I am alluding to; like war crimes, unless the system is allowed to work and punish with every letter of the law, there is nothing to discourage someone. Ellen government like all administrations prior suffered the same. Tubman, Tolbert (as David Lamb said, though he (Tolbert) was a descent man, he was not untouched by corruption), Doe, all the interim governments, CT and Bryant, now Ellen. I think it’s unbalanced to point the fingers at Ellen only, which one of these administrations ever suggested fighting corruption or attempted to pursue a case. King, you suggest that I stop, “perpetrating myth”, come on your allegations are not myths, but at best fallacies?

        You mentioned the 1M dollar into Ellen’s account, if you have truly followed the investigation a forensic professional submitted her report and it was obvious someone forged the signatures of some officials of government including the President. Read frontpageafrica, its all there…and I am not a fan of frontpage either.

        You mentioned Banks, I think an independent commission should be set up and if any evidence of misappropriation, he should be prosecuted and sent to jail.

        Bro. King, I sincerely reading your post at times they are objective and other times they are Hollywoodish, a nice fairy tale–this some has some characteristics of Hollywood, especially the 1M bank account transfer. Anyhow, I’ve directed you to, you should get clarification where doubts exist.

        1. bnker,

          I can’t say more than what you have said on the issue of corruption in Liberia. I quite agree with you. On the issue of war crime court to bring to book those who committed the worse atrocities during the Liberian civil conflict, I feel disappointed on the fact that the TRC Final Unedited Report submitted to the National Legislature is being filibuster for passage into law. For obvious reasons the TRC report has suffered this way. Some of those sanctioned in the report are the very ones to vote the passage of the document,

          My hope and prayer is that this war crime court come to Liberia to set records straight.

      3. King and Saw

        This is not the issue of corruption in Liberia. This is about war crimes in SL. Talk about corruption, we know that Taylor was the good guy especially when civil servants were not paid for over three years.

        I think Ellen is doing a good job to pay all Taylor arrears he owed civil servants and still meets up with her obligations to civil servants. At least Civil Servants pay is regularize, with an attempt to bring Bryant and others to justice.

        How many individuals did Taylor ever attempted to prosecute?

        Let us talk about war crimes not corruption. It is an age old problem in Africa.

        1. Flomoku,
          Ellen is doing well, Ellen is doing well; this is a statement we need to be carefull wih; Look in my view, the reason why taylors goverment lacked the minimun developement there would have been was the fact that, thees same big powers who should have supported the goverment like taylors’ decided not to but instead stalled his economy and at the same time, surport reble group like LURD and others. If this happens in Ellens case, I don’t think you will be saying she did well after she leaves. I am not going to put ellen down all the way, because in comparison with a coountry like sierraleone, she has done a good job. Reason why I say so is that I travel to sierraleone in the month of febuary and compare freetown to monrovia, boy i tell you .. freetown is a very filty city eventhough their war was over far before liberia. I guess they are sitting and awaiting the 5 BILLION promise by RAPP from taylors bank account. So what I am trying to say in short is that comparing ellen goverment with taylors is a very wrong concept. She does not war to deal wit. Infact she should be doing better if her goverment was not as corrupt as it is.

        2. Bro

          Good thread. I just want to know, how many of those who are talking down playing Ellen’s achievement have been to Liberia recently? Please someone tell me.

  4. Tracey,
    please help me to understand this decision by judge Lussick, Mr. Anyah and Munyah are all on this defense team, while waste a whole week for Mr.Griffith to put his pneumonia away before resumming the trial? my assumptions was that these lawyers are on the same team and should be able to replace their lead if something like this came up. or is this thinking totally wrong when it comes to the ICC?

    1. Hi Ziggy,
      Good question. My understanding is that usually one lawyer takes the lead in preparing the questioning for a witness, as Mr. Griffiths has with Mr. Taylor. Though Mr Anyah and Mr. Munyard would also be up to speed on the case generally, as a practical matter, it would still take some time for them to be fully prepared to take over the examination of a witness mid-stream, especially when their colleague has been conducting the questioning for so many weeks and has a clear vision of where he would like to take the questioning going forward. This break in the case for a few days, then, would (1) give the other lawyers on the team some time to prepare for the questioning of Mr. Taylor, (2) give Mr. Griffiths the chance to get better and hopefully be back on board by Monday, and (3) place a deadline on the halt in proceedings so as to ensure that the trial of Mr. Taylor can proceed without undue delay. Does this help at all?

  5. Liberianactivist07,

    As Liberians were are all entitled to our opinions and the respect that it deserves. I therefore do not begrudge you for that. Albeit that astrocities were committed under Taylor’ s watch, there is no justification. The same can be said of other factions. Liberians decided to let bygone be bygone, bury the hatchet and move on. This is where we are now. Pointing accusing fingers would not in my view reprieve the situation. But you are entitle to you candid opinions again.

    Unfortunately, this case is not about Liberia. It is about Sierra Leone. In as much as Western Governments and USA are putting Africans at loggerheads, we still remain levelheaded. Liberians will not hate Sierra Leone for Taylor’s ordeal, for they have no choice.

    I can say one thing, if Taylor is cleared, he will win the next elections, if he so choose to contest, that is my opinion and I believe it strongly as you believe yours.

  6. Tracey,

    There might have been an oversight, but we have not seen an upload of the Transcript of August 31, however the one of September 1 has been posted.


    1. Andrew – you are so on-the-ball in noticing these issues! Let me raise it with Mr. Moriba and see if it can be posted.

Comments are closed.