Taylor Did Not Command RUF To Release UN Hostages, Only Conveyed A Message From The International Community, He Says

Charles Taylor did not command Sierra Leonean rebel commander Issa Sesay to release the United Nations hostages, but rather conveyed the message of the international community that the peacekeepers had to be released unconditionally, he said today.

“Its a lie. I did not command him. The only thing I did on the UN situation was to tell Issa Sesay to release those people and to realease them unconditionally,” Mr. Taylor said. I told him the concerns of the international community and that if they did not release the peacekeepers, the international community will come down on them like a hammer.”

Mr. Taylor was responding to the testimony of a prosecution witness, whose identity was not released because he testified under protective measures. The greater details of the witness’s testimony were discussed in private session. The witness had testified that when UN peacekeepers were abducted by Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in 2000, Mr. Taylor called RUF commander Issa Sesay to Liberia and commander Mr. Sesay to release the UN peacekeepers. According to the witness, Mr. Taylor told Mr. Sesay to “release the UN hostages so I’ll tell the world that whatever I say happens.” 

Mr. Taylor dismmissed the witness’s testimony as “total foolishness.”

In May 2000, RUF rebels in Sierra Leone held over 500 UN peacekeepers hostage, an action which eventually led to the arrest of the rebel group’s leader Foday Sankoh. Issa Sesay, who was the RUF’s most senior commander after Mr. Sankoh’s arrest, later facilitated the release of the peacekeepers. Witnesses have testified that Mr. Taylor influenced the RUF to release the peacekeepers. Mr. Taylor has said he had the blessing of West African Leaders and the United Nations to negotiate the release of the hostages. The hostages were eventually taken to Liberia where they were released and then handed over to the UN.

In his testimony today, Mr. Taylor explained that when he called Mr. Sesay to negotiate the release of the peacekeepers, Mr. Sesay wanted the RUF’s leader Foday Sankoh to be released as a condition for the release the peacekeepers. According to Mr. Taylor, he told Mr. Sesay that “we cannot tie Sankoh’s release to the release of the hostages.”

“The whole issue was not my decision. I conveyed to him the message of the international community,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr.Taylor also refuted the witness’s assertion that after the release of the hostages, Mr. Sesay returned to Sierra Leone with arms and ammunition, given to him by Mr. Taylor for use by the RUF. Mr. Taylor dismissed this allegation, saying “it is a blatant lie.”

The same prosecution witness, whose testimony Mr. Taylor sought to refute today had testified that after the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement by the RUF and the Government of Sierra Leone in 1999, Mr. Taylor supplied the RUF with a helicopter load of ammunition. Mr. Taylor responded that the only helicopter which ferried RUF rebels from Liberia to Sierra Leone belonged to the UN and so if any ammunition was on board the said helicopter, then there “must have been complicity on the part of the UN.”

According to the witness, Mr. Taylor was not sincere in his dealings with West African leaders to bring peace to Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor denied these allegations. The witness further said that when RUF commander Sam Bockarie and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) leader Johnny Paul Koroma travelled from Liberia to Sierra Leone after the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement in 1999, Mr. Taylor gave the two men about $15,000 for use by their fighting forces. Mr. Taylor today denied giving the two men the said amount, but admitted that he gave them $10,000. He said that there was no ulterior motive in his gesture to the two men.

Mr. Taylor also today refuted the testimony of Prosecution Witness TFI-567, who, in his testimony in July 2008 claimed that in 1992, Mr. Taylor supplied RUF leader Mr. Sankoh with 50 boxes of AK-47 rifles, RPG boxes, GPMGs and other types of arms and ammunition which according to the witness were to be  used to attack the diamond rich town of Kono. According to the witness, Mr. Sankoh told him he (Sankoh) and “his brother Taylor had decided that this was the right time to capture Kono.” Mr. Taylor today denied this allegation.

“Sankoh and I did not talk about the capture of Kono. I did not know if Kono was captured at that time. If I had 50 boxes of AK-47 rifles, I would have captured Monrovia in 1992. Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.


  1. If I will comment on this story it is well explained, and the man keep saying the same thing. He is not just saying things but he got documents to prove that the International Community give him this task and he did his best to have these people released finished. Helicopter loaded with arms as this witness claimed after the talked was send to the RUF by Taylor. Now it turns to be a UN helicopter so what are we wasting all these money on this one case my people. There have been no direct link, I am gotting comfuse I thing I need help from someone to understand this whole trial really. Leave this man alone let him live his life freely please.

  2. NOKO5, Jose, others,

    What is your take on this evidence by the so-called protected witness who claimed that arms and ammunitions were in the helicopter that took ruf guys back to freetown. My concern is why did the prosecutor not summon the helicopter pilot so as to buttress the witness’ testimony? The prosection spent time and money on things of little importance in my view.

    1. The problem with this hiding behind the scene wtness is that he is just a pure liar. Another witness who testified against Mr. Taylor, he was a SL who was on that particular helicopter and he clearly stated that no weapons was on the helicopter. So which one of these prosecution witnesses should we believe?

      This kind of behavior continue to expose the rush to judgment and political motivation that allow such a trial to take place. Stephen Rapp is one of those people that continue to create a very negative impression about the social policy against Africans.

      1. You know king,

        You raise a good point; one thing that’s pulseling me is that , when these guys say hidden witness, what do they really mean? I s it that they are hiding behind some kind of currtain, sitting in a little room or where? would these people be hidding from taylor or the public? Reason why I am asking these questions is that Setphen RAPP and the court could conive ,install a tape recorder in a corner, already recorded and call it a witness behind the scene when probably there is no witness but a tape recorder. Please someone help me. who sees these witnesses besides the persecution and the court.Does taylor with his defence has the right to seeing them? please Tracey could you help too? Cuz this whole case is a big scam so some of us will ask all the lay man question there is… awaits your answere..

        1. Hi Noko5,
          Good questions. I’ll be out for a little while this afternoon, but later today I will get back to you on your question about protection measures for witnesses in court.

        2. Hi Noko5,

          You ask a good question. I think when people are talking about hidden witnesses they are really talking about witnesses who have protective measures put in place to protect their “privacy and security.” The application of these protective measures are decided by the judges. This can include measures to protect the person’s identity from the public and media by having “closed sessions” – this means that there is no public allowed to watch from the gallery at the courthouse, or view the proceedings on the live stream while that witness is testifying. Alternatively, the sessions can remain open, but the witness is shielded from the view of the public gallery. The witness’s image, and possibly their voice, is distorted on the live feed so their identity is not revealed. Sometimes, the witness will be brought in the room first and seated before the defendant is brought in the room. But they will be in the courtroom and not in a separate room. Sometimes, though, protective measures can include the witness being able to give their testimony by video-link, so they may be anywhere in the world – they don’t necessarily have to be in The Hague or in Sierra Leone where the court sits.

          However, any “hiding” of the witness must be done with Mr. Taylor’s rights in mind. He must be able to know who it is that is accusing him or testifying against him. Whatever the protective measure is, all persons taking part in the trial and are present in the court room for the day — the judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and the accused — will see and know who the witness is. This means that even if the prosecutor or the defense were trying to be tricky, everyone in the courtroom would definitely know if there was a tape recorder on the witness stand instead of a real live person!

          This information is only hidden from members of the public. So when a witness has protective measures and is not testifying in closed session, members of the public can hear him, whether his voice is distorted or not, but will not see his face, nor know his name or his address.

          The main rules which set out these measures and govern their application in the Special Court are rules 69 and 75 and they can be found here: http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=zXPrwoukovM%3d&tabid=176)

          Does this help?


    2. If this Court is about fair play , the dispensation of justice and preservation of the individual rights under law, Mr. Charles Taylor will be acquitted. I don’t think this Court has seen the likes of Mr. Taylor; I mean this guy is shredding the prosecution case as best as he can or should.

      What say you all, is he going to be acquitted?

      1. And some in here call us CHEERING TEAM. Where is the evidences??? Today, he heard about a number that a witness…..a MAIN WITNESS in this case said it belonged to Mr. Taylor. But the defense is telling us….HELL NO and they got document to prove him wrong.

        Maybe someone from the other side can HELP……were these witnesses VETTED, QUESTIONED or INTERROGATED by Ms. Hollis and her team or did they get the statement from some COLLECTION HOUSE??

        1. Noko!!

          Please lets direct this question to the 1970, somekind of univesity graduate, POOR FALLAH MENJOR…. HA HA HA. Bad luck full of wish… Mr. Taylor wil be free and all of tese will be seriuos fun..

      2. Tracey, just out of curiosity, did the Liberian Government ever participate or knowledgeable of this so- called court’s rule, especially when it comes to the distortion of voices and hidden witnesses? If so, during which Liberian president’s administration this ravage illness of justice occurred? Has there been any indisputable evidence, where prosecution witnesses were potentially attacked or attacked and killed or even intimidated by President Taylor supporters? Ellen Sirleaf for example, unilaterally turned over the former president and citizen of Liberia to this court, and her Government was allegedly threatened according to her, by a former General, Charles Julu of the Armed Forces of Liberia. Nonetheless, some of Taylor insiders including his vice President, Moses Blah, Ziggy Zag Menseh, and others, testified on behalf of the prosecution, and there is still no report of death threats as far as the record is concerned, and as far as we no know, or public annoucements from this court. Tracey, quite frankly, this a political EARTH QUAKE FOR INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE concerning this protective witness hidind behind the scene and the trial of this innocent man, Charles Taylor.

        1. Jose — I thought you were away from us, studying! Does this mean your exam is over? I hope it went well.

          To answer your question: no governments participate in the creation of the Special Court’s rules. The rules are developed by the Special Court judges, and revised by them every now and then. These witness protection measures exist in all the international justice courts as a normal part of the courts’ practice. It is not unique to the Special Court or to Mr. Taylor’s trial.

          I can check with the Special Court and see if they can let us know whether there have been any problems with witness protection in the Taylor trial. Part of the reason that witness protection measures exist is to try to minimize the possibility of any threats to people who testify before the court.


        2. Tracey, my exam is still pending. However, I periodically checked the site to be informed in order not to be left behind. I understand your answer and effort to ask the court questions, if witnesses have been intimidated, and whether there have been potential death threats, killings, and or threats in any shape or form. I await your background checks. On the other hand, you said there was no governments involvement in the making of the court’s rules; instead, the rules were developed by the Special Court judges and every now and than it is revised”. Within my interpretive opinion, it was exclusively left with the judges and no governments interference. I find it hard to believe. It was government that enforced the arrest. It was through government the court was established. It was government that turned him over. it is government that paying the salary of the judges. It was government that demanded his resignation. Tracey However,the statement of revising the rules every now and than is an effigy of justice. Changing the rules as we proceed. Let me give this analogy about a sport game. Changing the goal post as we play. Referee changing the rules as the game is played. Tarcey, I still don’t get it. What is this? If your team was playing a game, wouldn’t you want to know the rules or at least be part of the process, before the game starts? I’m a soccer fan. If the other team kicks the soccer ball in my territory far away from my goal post and the ref tells me it is a goal for the other team because the goal post has been changed to where the other team kicked the ball without me knowing or agreeing, don’t you think I have right to raise this legitimate concern? This is exactly what is happening in this court room.

          1. Hi Jose — glad you have found time to still keep up with the conversation here even as you study for your exam.

            I realized that my previous answer to you about the rules didn’t explain where they fit into the court’s operations. The Special Court is guided overall by its Statute – that is the founding document which sets out the laws by which the court has to operate — it defines the crimes that can be charged by the court (crimes against humanity, war crimes, other serious violations of international law, and crimes under Sierra Leonean law); it defines the timeframe that the court can look at any crimes committed — in the Special Court’s case, it can only look at crimes committed after November 30, 1996; the Special Court’s relationship to national courts, how the Special Court should be organized; the rights of the accused; working languages of the court; and other things. This really governs the “big picture” operations of the court.

            Now this Statute was negotiated and agreed to by the Sierra Leone government and the United Nations when they agreed to set up the Special Court. In fact, the Statute was annexed to this agreement to create the court. (If you want to check out the Statute, you can find it here: http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uClnd1MJeEw%3d&tabid=176. To see the Agreement between the Sierra Leonean government and the UN, try here: http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=CLk1rMQtCHg%3d&tabid=176.)

            This Statute has remained the same throughout the court’s lifespan — so the “big picture” laws haven’t changed. This means the goal post has not been shifted on these fundamental aspects of the court’s operations.

            What has changed over time has been the Special Court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. To explain what these are: these are rules which actually provide the framework for how the court should implement the “bigger picture” Statute in practice. They cover things like how the trial proceedings should be conducted in the courtroom (eg what qualifies for a closed session; measures for the protection of victims and witnesses) and what is required during the investigations (for example, it sets out the rights of suspects during an investigation, or recording of the questioning of the suspects). It also sets out how the judges, registry, prosecution and defense should be organized and function.

            Actually these rules have quite an interesting history. According to the statute (Article 14), the Special Court should adopt the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the tribunal set up to address the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. The ICTR’s rules themselves, under Article 14 the ICTR’s statute, were actually adopted from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY – the court set up to deal with the conflict in the Balkans also in the 1990s) and changed according to the ICTR’s needs. Article 15 of the ICTY’s Statute notes that the “judges of the International Tribunal shall adopt rules of procedure and evidence for the conduct of the pre-trial phase of the proceedings, trials and appeals, the admission of evidence, the protection of victims and witnesses and other appropriate matters.” So the three tribunals have actually operated on the basis of quite similar Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and the judges of each court have got together and changed them separately over time according to each court’s separate needs. Usually the rules are changed in efforts to try to make the proceedings of the court more efficient, or to improve the way the court operates. If you are interested, I will try to find some recent examples of how the judges have revised the rules so you can see what sorts of changes they make.

            So when I said to you that these rules are created by judges, I didn’t explain the whole story or how they came to exist – my main point was to explain that these operational rules that govern how the court practices – like in matters of witness protection — are not created by governments. That said, the Special Court relies on States to help enforce these laws and rules, like with arrests.

            Does this help, Jose?


    3. Andrew,
      My view is that such incident just never occured; I believe this guy was paid by the prosecution to say this fantastically, forgetting the legal aspect of the statement. I further believe that this prossecution was not thinking that this whole mess they brought up would have met stiff resistance from CT. These guys are a bunch of unserious lingering lawers with no prime objective, but to make some quick money out of the UN and the people of sierraleone. If and only if these guys were up for something real, they would have provided video recordings, audiorecordinsg and first hand signatures of some of what they are claiming. But notthing of the sought. Look Andrew, you and I know that the UN, US GREAT BRATAIN and the world can seek and find any information on anything at anytime. So if STEPHEN RAPP actually meant to proof something against taylor or help the
      sierraleone, all proofs were going to be available beyound all reasonable doubts. He lied to the poor people, give them high hopes, only to know that he is a dipolmatic thieve who came to exploit the people since he found out that they are just coming from war, destistute and devastated. GOD WILL PUNISH HIM IN THE END!!!

    4. Hey NoKo5,

      Don’t worry about the prosecutor not summering the helicopter pilot because the evidence is not there, I m looking forward to the defense doing so. If the defense succeed in bringing the pilot, well then the prosecution is in for more trouble.

    5. andrew jlay

      It’s obvious this individual overheard a story about weapon being transported from Liberia. I’m not calling the witness a liar. Based on his lack of direct involvement in the transportation of the ammo, he may have hurt the prosecution. Everyone knows that things get added to the original story and things get lost from the original story. I would like to get to the bottom of this “helicopter loaded with ammunition” story.

  3. I think these so called witnesses did not have the thoughts that Taylor was not going to give his account. They thought what ever they said were going to be the final and judgement could be made. It is never so UN helicopter, this behind the sence witness saying Mr. Taylor send arms loaded on that same UN helicopter. Where are we really heading? With 11 counts of charges agianst this man and one, for God sake has not really link him to any. Who are these witnesses? I am just tire with all of these things hearsay and the rest.The is not even one facts and so on.

  4. Leoroy and others who say all the prosecution witnesses are liars please save your judgement for the end of the case! No, we shall never let taylor go! He has 11 counts of charges to prove at this court! Thank you for your try..does this make sense to you? Maybe not because you are all on propaganda mission for charles taylor..you think that this is a matter of what the poll says in favor of taylor..rubbish!

    1. Menjor,
      They MAY NOT be liars, but they sure know how to INVENT and CREATE a story. The problem here is, DID THE PROSECUTORS VETTED, INTERVIEWED, INTERROGATED or CHECKED on their stories before putting them on the stand??? From what I see and hear in this case, the answer is a NO!!! For all the millions this court has received and we end up with these characters is beyond COMMON SENSE.

      Yes there were 17 now 11 but what are they Menjor?? Was Mr. Taylor DIRECTLY involved in any of those charges?? NO!!. So again we are down to LINKAGE and from what we are hearing, NO EVIDENCES!!!

      A DISGRACEFUL DISGRACE to this court if she convict him of any of these charges!!!

  5. These are the kind of witnesses that the prosecution has been presenting from the very start. Mr. X will say it was RED and Ms. Z will come say the next day that it was BLACK. Which one of them should we take seriously if they are all referring to one incident? Mr. Taylor will walk if this case is about justice. We will continue to expose these kinds of lies to the very end no matter how many times they call us NPFL Spoke Men. God willing Mr. Taylor will be back to Mama-Liberia 2010.


    Harris K. Johnson

  6. We africans are suffering in the areas of FOOD RELIEF, MEDICINE, EDUCATION, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, and other social areas because we allow our greedy leaders form stupid groups to used up funds of the United Nations on their selfish gains. One in particular is the Special Court on Sierra Leone. Now, these judges or so-called Lawyers are in Sierra Leone, Holland, or some place aboard with thier families enjoying themselves, while the UN is cutting funds in the areas mentioned above for poor african countries, including the very Sierra Leone. We need to alert Ban Kim Moon, UN Secretary General that he is inefficient and is allowing too many Money suckers get away with monies that could be used for purposes and countries in desprite need.

  7. polguru, to some of us this case is politically motivated and you may know that this is not an actual UN court but rather a court that was established and is being financed by powerful nations. So you have to understand that those powerful nations do not care about the legal implications about this case, otherwise they would have spend on this money directly on the ICC, and not some form of half bake judicial process that lacks fairness.

    When I speak about fairness, I like to seperate the actual judges from the court policies. The rules and policies of the court is stack against the witness, Mr. Taylor. For example, the hear say rule that is being applied in this case leaves no sense for justice, and the discovery policy is such that the defense cannot use certain prosecution documents unless they have to get express consent from powerful governments. What kind of justice is this that the prosecution can use a particularly document, simply reads a portion of that document to make up their case but the defense cannot use that same document unless it gets approval from some powerful countries. What a mockery of justice!!

    1. King Gray,

      Please respond to this thread, because I want to refer this issue to Tracey and Alpha for them to look into for us. Are you saying that in this trial there are certain evidence that the prosecution has but the defence is not privy to unless prior consent is received from another country? Could you please give a case in point. Please be specific and give us the name and type of evidence, when it was presented etc.

      The prosecution in criminal trials is responsible for discovery and disclosure. That is rule of evidence and procedure. If this is true we need to seek clarification from Alpha and Tracey.

      So brother please provide details.

  8. Guys, i’m studying for an exam. Therefore, I will not post as frequent for the next couple of days. Stay strong and motivated.

  9. Tracey,

    When I do not receive video feed I definite know something is out of the ordinary. So today again no feed. At least I did not work today so I was at home. I decided to sleep the morning section off and view the afternoon one but did not get to log on. Please give me an update like you did yesterday.

    1. Andrew — I understand that apparently there was a problem with one of the live streaming channels today with cut-offs, but the other one was working fine. The Special Court has been alerted.

  10. A couple a days ago one of the contributors commented alleging that the commentary section should change its title to the “NPFL propaganda gallery.” Bundu, I hope you are not suggesting that this Site is BIAS. The issue is those that are supporting the movement for Justice are defending a cause they truly believed in. They would have done the same not only for TAYLOR but for anyone who rights and dignity are violated by the same group of people who enslaved us. These NATIONALIST have dominated the commentary section by making their voices heard. It is alright to have a healthy and civic discussion on the issues without prevaricating, but for many of those flibbertigibbets who opposed the view of the NATIONALISTS most times their comments are provoking and stir someone to an emotion response. Let us stick to the issues rather than the personality.

    1. Where are Bundu, Menjor and Fallah plus the rest….. READ THIS AND TELL ME HOW HONEST FEELINGS…This is Mr Rapp telling us the SPECIAL TREATMENT ENJOY BY AMERICANS but yet seeks other citizens to face justice.

      The U.S. is yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). How does your appointment further U.S. involvement with the ICC and international law?

      The decision about the ICC treaty has to be made by the President of the U.S. In 2002, Congress passed the American Service Member’s Protection Act that prohibited U.S. cooperation in the ICC in many areas. [There was a fear that U.S. soldiers could be targeted in politically motivated prosecutions.] But it also included a provision that U.S. authorities could cooperate to bring to trial individuals like [former Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic. I think you can expect that the current Administration won’t go back on what the second Bush Administration did after 9/11 with regards to unsigning the ICC treaty.

      So the U.S. does not want its own citizens to be held accountable for crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq?
      In my point of view, if there were acts of torture, they violated American law because America ratified the U.N Convention Against Torture. If we were part of the ICC, we would be expected to investigate these issues, and if there were a strong case, you would expect prosecution. That’s what the U.S. is doing anyway. We respect one of the guiding principles of the ICC that the international court has jurisdiction that is secondary to the national court. Whether we are part of the ICC or not, we will conduct ourselves so that no prosecutor at the international level would ever have cause to take up a case against an American citizen.

      1. Noko4

        Very valid point. This is a clear case of rules for others but not for us. That is an example of the selectiveness of this whole process. So are Americans allowed to be prosecuted under their national jurisdiction but yet support the prosecution of other nationals under international jurisdictions? What hypocracy? What is the guarantee that the US perpetrators will actually be prosecuted, i.e. Bush and Cheney etc? Oh I forgot they are powerful!


        This is my example of might being right. Rapp is an American and so was David Crane. I saw them being influenced by their host governments. This was made more apparent by Crane’s unsealing to the US even before it was revealed to the Africans or Mr Taylor. I also see the insistance after the unsealing by George Bush for Taylor to step down. I further saw the insistance of Bush that Taylor must be turned over to the Court as an interference and the fact that money was allocated in the US budget for the arrest of Mr Taylor. If this is not seen as a breach of neutrality then I do not know what is.

        Another issue of the Prosecutor’s lack of neutrality was the venom and share animosity exhibited by David Crane whenever he spoke of Mr. Taylor in interviews. He condemned the man long befor he (Taylor) was given an opportunity to answer to the charges or defend himself. Did you not hear how angry and bitter David Crane and the venom he spewed out. It was personal and as we know Crane had a run in with Taylor when Taylor was president of Liberia.

        1. Hi Helen,

          Interesting points. Let me throw some ideas in for the debate!

          Mr. Rapp, in his recent interview with us, explained that prosecutors can share indictments/arrest warrants with third countries if they are looking for cooperation with arrests. If I remember correctly, I think he also mentioned that it would likely have been shared with Ghana too, given Mr. Taylor was there for the peace talks when the indictment was announced.

          If you will allow me for a moment to share my thoughts on this based on the work I do with other courts apart from the Special Court too: This sharing of arrest warrants before they are made public is not just limited to the Special Court for Sierra Leone – it is allowed by all the international criminal tribunals given they have to rely on states to enforce their decisions and warrants. Similarly, part of the notion of state cooperation with these courts is to ensure that decisions of the court are enforced – so States who support the work of the court, or (like with the International Criminal Court) have signed up to be parties to its statute, are considered to have an obligation to use a range of tools to assist in enforcing arrest warrants (including diplomatic pressure as well as actually arresting people on their soil) precisely because these courts don’t have their own police forces or any way to catch the people for whom arrest warrants are issued. However, States are not allowed to try to influence who prosecutors decide to indict, nor the judges in their decisions on the guilt or innocence of the people before them in court — so the actual legal process is meant to be completely shut off from State influence and involvement (not that States don’t try! If we look at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia, the Cambodian Prime Minister has been criticized for his public statements which make it look like he is trying to influence judicial decisions on who should be investigated [basically, he doesn’t want any more people investigated than the five people who have already been arrested]. People who watch this court are particularly worried about these statements because Cambodia generally has long been criticized by observers, including from the UN, for the amount of political influence exercised over the national judiciary and the consequent lack of independence of the judiciary as a whole).

          So back to this case, in practice, the two examples you gave (Crane sharing the arrest warrant, and Bush pushing for Mr. Taylor to be turned over to the Special Court) are both accepted and normal parts of the interactions between courts and states — however, that said, I definitely take your point on the perception that these actions create. I agree that is an important thing to look at because the perceptions created can impact how people view the trial. To the extent that these exercises of enforcement and cooperation between the Special Court and the United States can be considered legitimate and needed to make sure these courts work — my question would be: should the Special Court and the United States made greater efforts to explain to people following Mr. Taylor’s indictment, arrest and trial what they were doing and why, especially given the perception issues that you rightly raise?

          On the issue of how Mr. Crane spoke about Mr. Taylor: that’s also an interesting point. Prosecutors often speak to the media about their efforts to arrest or to describe the case they are presenting against certain individuals. But was part of the issue one of balance? That is, do you think that to the extent the Special Court might have been able to do so, that it should have tried to ensure a balance with the media so that it wasn’t only the perspective of the prosecutor being reported in the media, but a defense perspective could have been provided as well (eg by the court’s Office of the Principal Defender if it occurred before Mr. Taylor was able to engage his own defense counsel)?

          Looking forward to hearing from you, Helen.


        2. Again Tracey, Mr. Crane showed it to the US firstly….WHY??? What was the REASON?? This court is under the arms of the UN, why wasn’t the UN told FIRSTLY?? And we are to believe there are NO links???

          Side note, have there been other nationalities as LEAD counsels in the other cases or just Americans??

          1. Hi Noko4 — good questions and unfortunately I don’t know the answer to your first set of questions.

            I will try to get more information on the second question about lead counsels in other cases and get back to you.


          2. Noko4,
            Not all lead prosecutors at the court/ in the other cases are/were Americans. For the CDF case, the lead prosecutor was Joseph Kamara and for the RUF, first, it was Peter Harrisson and later it became Vincent Wagona. For the AFRC case also, lead prosecutors changed as the trial progressed. When the case started in 2005, the lead prosecutor was Ms. Leslie Taylor but at some point in the proceedings, the counsel who was in court for most of the time was Karim Agha. Joseph Kamara is Sierra Leonean and Vincent Wagona a Kenyan. I need to find out the nationalities of Peter Harrisson, Leslie Taylor and Karim Agha. Once i do, i will get back to you immediately.


          3. Noko4,
            As promised few days ago, i have checked on the nationalities of the various lead prosecutors on the other cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. For more coherence, i am listing all the names and nationalities of the various lead prosecutors, including those whose names and nationalities i posted on Saturday.

            1. Joseph Kamara–CDF: Sierra Leonean
            2. Peter Harrison–RUF: Canadian
            3. Vincent Wagona–RUF: Kenyan
            4. Leslie Taylor–AFRC: Australian
            5. Karim Agha–AFRC: Pakistani/British

            Hope this helps.

  11. Fallah I must say this to as you always claimed that you are educated on this site. Jose asked you about your educational background and you stated just few. You graduated in the 70s for a well known liberian School if I got you right. As a learned man as you claimed is that how you reason on issue of high profile like this? If you was in that case will you like that kind of justice that is set aside for you and only you alone. We are talking about fairness in this case and not what you have personally agianst him. Whenever someone like Joes, Noko, Helen, Andrew, and others say something that is meaningful to the many readers on this whole case you are always on the wrong side. Why I you very hard to learn? As you always put it to us. Grow up and be wise not because according to you that you are an American citizen. Do you know which citizenship I hold now? Open your eyes brother.

  12. Leoroy Dennis,
    An American citizenship is not anything much because they can take it away whenever they want to take it. I am an American Citizen myself and I am serving in the US Military. Does that make me or any American citizens more human then any citizens of other Countries?
    The answer is a BIG NO!! Menjor claiming that he attended one of the leading universities in Liberia back in the 70s sound a little hard to believe! First of all, how many univesities were there in Liberia back in the 70s? The only university in liberia at that time was the university of liberia, even my uncle William R. Tolbert Jr. graduated from it in 1934. So as J. fallah Menjor wants show out to people that he’s educated, he just making small out of himself. He should wait and see the witnesses who are going to testify for Mr. Taylor.
    We already know that about 291 witnesses are lineup to testify, many of them heads of States and UN personnels. Don’t be shock when President Kabbah testify against the prosecution in the case to save himself and Country men the shame! Prosecuting a man who help the international communityto bring peace to Sierra Leone.

    1. Hi Sam – I’m sorry your comment didn’t appear, and I’m not sure I know which comment to which you are referring. If it didn’t appear, would you mind resubmitting and as long as it meets our posting guidelines, I will of course be happy to make sure it appears.

  13. Tracey,

    Based on revelations from this trial that America supplied arms to LURD AND MODEL so that they can fight against the Taylor Government, well meaning Liberians are disappointed. this is evidence of America direct complicity resulting in the deaths, suffering of Liberians and destruction of their homeland.

    In 1990 when Liberians needed America to separate warring factions during the initial peak of our civil war, America did nothing. We recently learned from this trial that under secretary was scolded for encouraging his country to intervene in saving lives in Liberia.

    So Tracey, we do not need explanations from America because the hipocracy is clear. Death of Liberians and destruction of Liberia are of their least concern.

    What concerns America is her interest. Firestone is needed to continue to supply latex to her Ohio based parent company, so rubber should not form part of the commodity to be sanctioned in Liberia. Mr. Taylor was generating revenue from diamond, timber etc to fuel his war efforts so those commodities should be sanctioned. However, rubber should not be sanctioned because the revenue from rubber was insignificant. Cool logic

    So this is my view on your question that I reproduce below for those who are not familiar with it.

    “should the Special Court and the United States made greater efforts to explain to people following Mr. Taylor’s indictment, arrest and trial what they were doing and why, especially given the perception issues that you rightly raise?”

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Nice to hear from you and thanks for your comment (I hope that you had more luck with the live stream today, did you?)

      I do understand the disappointment that you are speaking about in relation the US’ role in Liberia generally. And just to be clear as I ask my follow-up question: I am not trying to defend American government policy on Liberia here on this site (nor am I an American myself, as it happens). But my question is more a structural one — regardless of the US intervention, or lack of, in Liberia, are you confident that in the specific case of Charles Taylor’s trial, that the actual legal process – and by this I mean the investigation, prosecution and judicial decision-making in Mr. Taylor’s trial — is insulated from the political processes that happen outside the court?

      Our monitoring to date has not given us reason for concern that political intereference by governments — western or otherwise — is suspected in the trial itself. But I do think that the extent to which the court is necessarily placed in a political context to ensure its decisions are enforced (because for that they do have to rely on states, including the US) needs to be clearly delineated from the actual trial process, both in practice and in perception. Specifically, the lines between what states can be involved with (eg budgetary issues of the court as donors, cooperation with the court to enforce its decisions), and what it cannot be legally involved with (eg the prosecutor’s decision-making and the judge’s decision making) perhaps needs to be more regularly discussed and explained by the court and by the states who support the court, in my humble opinion (and this is not just an issue with the Special Court, but I think more generally with all these international justice courts – the lines can sometimes look blurred from the outside). To me, this regular, clear form of explanation would help us all feel more confident that Mr. Taylor is getting a fair trial in an independent legal process — to which he is entitled not only under the Special Court’s statute (Article 17), but also under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (Article 14, which includes the phrase “everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law”) — and also so we all know at what point, both as monitors and public watching the trials, we should get worried if political interference in the judicial or prosecutorial decision-making is ever suspected.

      What do you think, Andrew? Am I off-track?

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


      1. Hey Tracey,

        You are on track. Rather, It was I who flared up. And beg of you to continue to bear patience with our sentiments. I just lost my composure. These Americans are disgusting. It is all about themselves, their economic and political influence,that apart, it does not matter what happens. Were they impartial when they requested Taylor to leave office? It has been revealed that they provided logistics to the very group that was battling Taylor. This is sad. They only create more of Taylor.

        Much of that. I have always maintained that the panel of judges at courtroom-2 are terrific. They have been professional to the letter of the law. They have not demonstrated any ramification of undue influence. Decisions that they rendered have been fair and consistent with the issue at hand. The treatment of Taylor has been fair and the trial has been free.

        Even in the matter of dealing with the Netherlands authorities, they have not demonstrated any fear nor favor but have been stern and definite dispense of administrtive issues. The court is aware that it relies on the Dutch Government for enforcement so to speak, yet they were resolute and swift in addressing the extra security measure that Mr. Taylor complained about.

        Had the honorable judges ever given a sign of impartiality, Mr. Taylor would have raised that with his defense. So from our perspective, the trial is smooth. Our fear is if it will continue.

        Our doubts are genuine. We believe that Mr. Taylor association with the RUF did not rise to the level to warrant a war crime. We believe that the extension of the indictment to include Mr. Taylor was a political vendetta. That is why legal experts were disappointed with the legal architecture of the prosecution case.

        Yes Tracey, and I believe others will support my assertion that the panel of judges remain impartial and Taylor is having unhindered opportunity to defend himself. But the actual test of the judges will be at the rendering of the verdict. The verdict they hand down will determine if the ICC will last a decade, because the special court is an extension of the ICC.

        1. Hi Andrew — don’t worry about your “flare up” – it is fine to share your opinions here on the site.

          I agree with your assessment of the judges to date, and we will also continue to monitor the court’s independence as the trial continues.

          I must ask: when you say the “actual test of the judges will be at the rendering of the verdict,” what do you mean? Whether the verdict will be well reasoned and based in the facts and the evidence that has been presented, or something else?

  14. As An African i feel bitterly disapointed that ,such an institution like the ICC AND ECJ together with the UNITED NATION RESOLUTION COUNCIL are all paying a bline eye for not bring the atrocities committed by Charles Taylor in LIBERIA. To me as an HUMAN RIGHT ACTIVIST THE victims of charles taylors crime. Remain in tartar as they have being deprived their right of access to justice.

    1. Hi Banoramas,

      Welcome — I don’t think we have seen a post from you before. Good to have you join the conversation.

      Banoramas, the hope you expressed that the crimes committed in Liberia during its conflict would be addressed by some kind of justice process has been shared by others on this site, some of whom have expressed a desire to see a war crimes court set up in Liberia to generally address the crimes committed during the war. You might also be interested in the comments made by Mr. Rapp as he was finishing his tenure with the Special Court and going on to start his new role with the US Administration as the Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues. He suggested that other countries such as the US might be willing to fund and help set up such a process, but the desire for it would need to come from the Liberian people in the first instance. My question to you: what is the debate about a war crimes court looking like in Liberia right now, among both human rights activists such as yourself, and others? What kind of momentum is there around it at the domestic level? I would be interested to hear your views on the dynamics around this issue.

      By the way, Banoramas, you can find the whole series of the interview with Mr. Rapp here: http://www.charlestaylortrial.org/category/expert/ but here is the relevant question and answer:

      Harris K Johnson asked: “As an Ambassador-at Large for War Crimes issues, what is you option on a Special Court for Liberia to prosecute war lords as recommanded by the TRC?”

      MR. RAPP’S ANSWER: I was asked that question when I was in Monrovia and I quoted from what Ambassador Thomas Greenfield has said about two weeks ago, and what Secretary Clinton said when she passed through Monrovia a little more than a week ago. That was: the decision on how to achieve accountability for the crimes that were committed during the civil wars in Liberia is first and foremost a decision for the people of Liberia through their elected representatives and we really want them to make a decision on how they want to approach this issue and then if they come to us and seek assistance we’ll be prepared to provide that assistance. There are many approaches to achieving accountability but we think it important that the people who experienced this horrendous violence and who were victims of these crimes make that determination themselves. It is not for other countries to say you should do this or you should do that – let’s hear from them first.


      1. Tracy,

        Mr. Rapp answer to my question and that of Ambassador Greenfile, and Secretary Clinton statements on recent developement in Liberia with regards to the TRC work and recommendations, are all nothing, but disapointments for the many Liberians that suffered from the civil war in Liberia. You and me know that Liberians have never been left alone in deciding important national issues like the TRC report. The US has always been involved with making decisions for Liberia. For example, former President Doe was asked by the Americans to leave Liberia when Taylor forces were closing in on Monrovia in 1990. The same Americans, through President Bush ordered Mr. Taylor in 2003 to leave Liberia. An American War Ship with over 3000 marines was sent to the coast of Monrovia to reinforce President Bush order that Mr. Taylor must leave. The Americans were also involved with the peace process in Ghana. The Americans were very helpful in bringing the largest UN Peace Keeping Force to Liberia. The Americans spend billions of dollars to support the elections that brought Ma-Ellen to power. Why is it now that the Americans are running from us on the implementation of the TRC recommendations? Is it because their intrest is hooked? Well, this is another dark page in Liberian History. If Liberia needed America the most, now is the time. Let’s end this thing together as one BIG FAMILY TREE.


        Harris K Johnson

        1. Hi Harris,

          I can understand the disappointment you express about the history of US-Liberian relationship and your disillusionment which this creates with respect to accountability options. But on the ground (I think you mentioned previously that you are based in Liberia and sometimes travel outside Monrovia into rural Liberia for your job as well, if I am remembering correctly?) is there any sense in Liberia that the creation of a tribunal to address war crimes is going to be possible or that there is a gathering momentum around the idea?


        2. What is your take on the after effect on implementing the TRC recommendations. Is it being used as a political move to over throw the current government or is it being used to bring our people some closure.

        3. Harris,
          If a war crimes tribunal has to be set up in Liberia and TRUE justice has to be served, then all the factional leaders has to face trial including their supporters/financiers. and you know that includes: Charles Taylor, Rosevelt Johnson, Prince Johnson, Alhaji Kromah etc. their financiers/supporters including but to limited to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the burkinabe president has to also face trial.

    2. Banoramas,

      You have to be specific as to which atrocity that Taylor committed and the alleged victims. There is no way you will get by making blanket statement as such. Raise you issues with concrete points and they shall be discussed.

      If you are advocating a war crime tribunal for Liberia, that is a different ball game. There are advocates and opponents of this view. Because a war crime tribunal has not be establish does not constitute neglect, but it means we have not reached that determination as yet.

      Okay, so whomever you are bring your issues and they will be met.

  15. Harris K Johnson

    What is your take on the after effect on implementing the TRC recommendations. Is it being used as a political move to over throw the current government or is it being used to bring our people some closure.

    1. Al-Solo Nyonteh,

      My take is that the implementation will bring lasting peace to Liberia. For example, if we prosecute all war lords and their financiers, the process will send a strong signal out there to who be war markers, that they will be treated the same way if they ever dream of making war on peace loving Liberians. But if we let it die as some people think, I’m afraid that we will be sending the wrong signal and the cycle of violence will continue. I think the people of Liberia deserve justice like that of the people of SL. Please do not see this as a move to over throw this present government. We need not to over throw this government. The Liberian people will decide soon in 2011, if they can continue with Ma-Ellen and her American base ministers.


      Harris K Johnson

  16. Tracey,

    Yes, I’m based in Monrovia and travel to most parts of Liberia for work. I will again say yes to your question if momentum is gathering in Liberia for the idea of a tribunal to address war crimes. We the grass rooters that suffered the effects of the war are in strong support of the establishment of a War crime Court to prosecute perpetrators of war in Liberia, but our government lacks the political will to do same. This lack of political will is being buttress by the United States Government simply because they have been greatly involved with region change in Liberia. If you took a walk down Broad Street, and talk to the common people in the streets, you will understand that majority of the Liberian people support the idea of a court to address war related crimes. In conclusion, let me assure you that we will do everything humanly possible to ensure that justice is done to our people, with or without America. We are not going to give up on this never.


    Harris K Johnson

  17. Sam,

    You are right on this. Mr. Taylor and his like as you have cleverly named above, must all be processed to court if there must be lasting peace in Liberia. No one Liberian is more Liberian than the other.


    Harris K Johnson

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