Charles Taylor’s Defense Counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, Answers Your Questions – Part II

Dear Readers — here is the second installment of answers to your questions from Courtenay Griffiths, Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel.  The final installment will be posted tomorrow.

QUESTION 8. What is your sense of how Mr. Taylor performed on the stand? Are you proud of your case and would you have changed anything?  What types of witnesses are you planning on bringing to the stand?

Based on the following comments:

On March 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm, Grebo said:

Mr. Griffith, …….

4, What is your take, on how C G Taylor performed on the stand and if you could change any strategy what will it be looking back

5, How many witnesses are you planning on calling

6, Can you share some light on what TYPE of witnesses you and your defence team are planning on bringing I.e Characters witnesses etc

7, My learned Counsel, so far what are the things you’re proud of in this case and which once you could’ve change if any

………..11. Considering all those stories said about C G taylor, does Taylor strick you as a man you would’ve befriend

12, My learned Counsel, many times, lawyers defend their clients base on how much money they stand to gain, what kinds of emotion are you attaching to this case and why


I was very pleased with Mr. Taylor’s evidence. For a man of sixty-odd to have been on the stand for almost eight months is a major test of stamina and concentration, and he was able to see that ordeal through from start to finish. And also, we were able to support his evidence with a voluminous amount of documentary evidence, which was not the case with the prosecution’s case. Which is why, at the start of his cross-examination, conscious as they were of that major distinction between the two cases, the prosecution suddenly decided to dump a load of fresh evidence and new documents on Mr. Taylor, which they hadn’t produced during the course of their case. And they went about it in a very unfair way, by first asking the judges to prevent Mr. Taylor from speaking to his lawyers, and then to dump on him eight lever-arch files of new material. I think that was an ambush, and it was a planned — and I think rather improper — way for a prosecutor to pursue their case. But overall, yes there were some inconsistencies in Mr. Taylor’s evidence. I recall what he said about Jonas Savimbi – I know there were those inconsistencies. But you cannot give evidence over the course of eight months without such inconsistencies creeping into your account. It’s inevitable. So overall, I have no problems whatsoever with his performance. I think he did extremely well.

And can you speak at all about the types of witnesses you’re planning to bring during your case?


Well, for one thing, we will not be calling hundreds of witnesses. I doubt if we’ll call fifty. And for the most part, because we take the view that Mr. Taylor’s evidence went extremely well and that, for the most part, his account went unchallenged by the prosecution in cross-examination. You will have noted that the prosecution, in cross-examining him, spent most of their time – perhaps more than ninety percent – questioning him about Liberia, not about Sierra Leone. Yet he is not on trial for what happened in Liberia.  Consequently, we feel that our witness needs are a lot more limited now. And so consequently, we are targeting particular aspects of Mr. Taylor’s testimony for which we think independent support will be of benefit to the judges. And so it’s a question of identifying what those issues are.

QUESTION 9: How can you defend a man that many people believe is guilty? What if your client told you he was guilty – what would you do?

Based on the following comments:

On March 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm, Morris Kanneh said:

If your client confessed to you that he committed henious crimes to you still go ahead to defend him? Where do you draw the line doing your job and the morality with the job you do?

On March 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm, sansee said:

How can you defend a man who surpervised the death of so many innocent people and the destruction of a whole country?


Well, it’s the standard question one is asked as a defense criminal barrister, or advocate. And that is, you know, how can you defend a guilty person? But that’s erroneous. First of all, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Secondly, I am not there to decide guilt or innocence. I am there to present a case. It’s for the judges to decide guilt or innocence. So consequently, whether he be guilty or not doesn’t really figure in my decision-making as to whether or not to take on the case. If he told me that he was guilty, then that’s a different matter altogether. Because in that situation I, as his professional advisor, would have to advise him to enter a plea of guilty, if that’s his position. It’s as simple as that.

QUESTION 10. What do you make of the prosecutors – do you respect them and the case they are making against your client?

Based on the following comment:

On March 7, 2010 at 6:08 am, Jose Rodriguez said:

Mr. Griffitths,

What do you make of your counterparts, Ms. Hollis and Mr. Nicholas Koumjian? Are you convinced with the evidence they have presented thus far as far as the 5 billion dollars claims, The RUF’s Salute Report which did “not” mention President Taylor as being in their chain of command?

Do you respect the council opposite you? Why/why not?


Well, let me start right from the top. I do not respect David Crane. I think he’s a racist, and I think he was totally biased in the way he went about conducting this investigation. And indeed, his racism and bias has caused most of the problems in the prosecution case, which we as the defense were able to exploit. I have utmost respect for Brenda Hollis, because she’s hardworking, I believe she’s extremely professional, and she has presented her case well, and she’s led her team extremely efficiently. I have the utmost respect for her.

And how about the case they are making against your client?


Well, as I said before, as far as I’m concerned, I think this case is very shoddy. I think it is full of grave inaccuracies, inconsistencies and downright lies.

QUESTION 11: What surprised you about this trial, and what have you learned?

Based on the following comments:

On March 7, 2010 at 11:29 am, chappy said:

If in the near future you are to write a book regarding this trail(Mr. Taylor’s Trail), what will be your take on the way the presecutors asked question during this trail?
Secondly, what new things have you learned from this trail?

On March 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm, questions said:

12. a) What attracted you to the trial?
b) What has surprised you the most (and the least) about the proceedings?


What has surprised me is how lax the rules of evidence are in these international tribunals. Basically, any kind of evidence can go before the judges. For the most part, the prosecution case is based on hearsay, double hearsay, triple hearsay. Very few witnesses were able to say, from their own firsthand knowledge, “I heard or saw Mr. Taylor do this” — very few, even of the so-called linkage witnesses. And that, to my mind, is a major flaw in the way international criminal justice is being conducted. I mean, even newspaper articles containing opinion evidence can be put to a witness in cross-examination. I think those rules really need to be tightened up a lot, because one would have thought, given the way in which Mr. Taylor is painted in the media, that the prosecution had produced watertight, independent, incontrovertible evidence to prove his guilt. For example, satellite photographs, telephone or radio interception and the like, because we know that the United States and Great Britain, who had a great interest in that part of West Africa, had the technology to produce that kind of evidence. But no – not a shred of it was presented. Rather, the prosecution depended on the second and third-hand account of events which cannot be challenged by the defense. I mean, if somebody said somebody told me that Charles Taylor did this, the person who told that individual isn’t there for me to say “you’re a liar”. So how can I challenge that evidence,  particularly when it forms the bulk of the prosecution case?

QUESTION 12:. What do you do with inconsistent testimony and charges that witness statements were changed?

Based on the following comment:

On March 6, 2010 at 2:52 am, Ziggy Salis said:

Question for Mr. Griffith: What does a lawyer do in a case such as this when the accused ( Charles Taylor ) under cross and under oath has admitted that he has given inconsistent statements during his direct examinations about issues involving the former UNITA strongman Jonas savimbi? and his first witness Yankubah Samateh AKA Yank Smythe contradictions regarding punishment to Benjamin Yeatent for the executions of Mr. Sam Dorkie and his family which ( Charles Taylor ) has denied under oath? finally, could this defense team be held for possible contempt charges as witness Yankubah has stated that his written testimonies were misrepresented or change without his knowledge?


Well, as far as I’m concerned, my team are highly professional. I would not change a witness’s statement without the leave of that witness. So if those are the charges being leveled against us, I don’t accept it. The lawyers in my team do not behave in that way. That is totally unethical and unprofessional. But so far as inconsistencies are concerned, if we want to dwell on that topic, then perhaps we ought to register the major inconsistencies in the evidence brought before the court by the prosecution. Major inconsistencies. Which, in most cases, amounted to downright falsehood and fabrication.
QUESTION 13:. Are you and Mr. Taylor reading this blog and if not, why?  

Based on the following comment:

On March 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm, Grebo said:

Mr. Griffith,


Fourthly, How often do you read content on this blog since it’s the #1 online media covering this trial with 100% objectivity although with counter views

5th, If you have not been reading contents on this blog, can I recomment you start, if No, why.

6th, When will you visit us again or how often will you come bye since your strongest supporters are here

7th, Not many times we’ll hear good new about C G Taylor, can you tell us something, anything about Taylor.

8th, What do you have to say to all those who still believe Taylor is guilty

9th, What kinds of favor will you like from the Liberian people, Taylor’s supporter to be precise

10th, What kinds of websites C Taylor are allow to browse and do you know if he browses website like this one


Well, Mr. Taylor doesn’t have access to the Internet. I read the blog as often as I can.

QUESTION 14:. Equality of arms: Is the Special Court treating you fairly?

Based on the following comment:

On March 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm, Big B said:

Perry Mason,

I am eager to know if the Staff of the Special Court treats the defense team differently from the prosecution, as far as obtaining information, sharing information, office assistance, i.e., making copies, faxes, asking for a stable gun, paper clips etc….?


I think we have the best resourced team that perhaps there has ever been in the international criminal justice arena. And I think, from when I was brought on board, there was a degree of equality of arms between the parties. But prior to that, it was totally unequal, which is why Mr. Taylor sacked his initial team. It was totally unfair and unequal. And indeed, such inequality is something which is exploited by the prosecution in all of these international tribunals. In most cases before these tribunals the defence just do not have the resources to compete on a level playing field.


  1. Hi Mr Griffith

    Is it late for me to be included as one of CT witnesses in his defence? I am a Sierra Leonean I will like to come out there and tell that Court that the people who should have been accused as bearing the greatest responsibility for that war are in Freetown, London and in the UN. I am prepare to travel there free of charge to make this contribution. I have evidence of this trust me

  2. Mr. Griffiths Response Part I

    Mr. Griffith’s responses to some of our questions are disturbing. For a practitioner of the court to bluntly state that the Appeal Chamber of the court is bias and the deck is already stocked against President Taylor is scary. All because of the United States and the UK has too much at stake to loose this case.

    Mr. Griffiths, “And I’m very concerned about the prosecution appealing, and the Appeals Chamber in this court having to decide on such an appeal, because frankly, I consider the Appeals Chamber of this court to be biased. And that can be seen from their decision in the RUF appeal. They have bastardized important legal principles governing the central mode of liability in Mr. Taylor’s case. Such has been the departure from customary international law that one of the appeal judges, Justice Fisher, interestingly an American judge, described the appellate decision as “dangerous”.

    We all have agreed that President Taylor is getting a fair shake down. The judges are doing their best to give President Taylor his right to a fair trial.

    Mr. Griffiths, “Well, I trust the judges, and I trust the integrity of the judges. But it is a fact that they’re operating under enormous international pressure, particularly from the United States and the United Kingdom”… “And I just hope that they will stay strong and sufficiently independent of mind not to bow to that pressure”.
    Tracey, some of us have being saying this all the way long, that it is a fact the United State and the UK were putting pressure on the judges, but you said it was not the case. You proclaimed that the judges are independent and free from International pressure.

    President Taylor is different from any other presidents who were prosecuted in the International court or any other court for that matter. President Taylor is the people’s president. Liberia loves Taylor. It had being said repeatedly on this site that if President is free and chooses to contest the 2011 presidential election he’s going to win hands down.

    Mr. Griffiths, “And there are real political reasons for that, because an acquitted Charles Taylor will be able to return to Liberia. And if he returned to Liberia and contests the election against the current incumbent, Charles Taylor would win. But can you see either the United States or the United Kingdom, having invested so much in this court, allowing such a democratic possibility to take place? Despite their alleged support of democracy and the rule of law! Can you see it? I cannot, because the economic interests at stake for them are too great”

    Most people in Sierra Leone can’t afford their basic needs, food, water, shelter and perhaps security. On the other hand, millions of dollars are being lavished on this good for nothing trial. The US and the UK by all means necessary MUST win this case.

    Mr. Griffiths, “The United States or the United Kingdom, having invested so much in this court, allowing such a democratic possibility to take place? Despite their alleged support of democracy and the rule of law! Can you see it? I cannot, because the economic interests at stake for them are too great”.

    The founders of this court, David Cane and associates have being call racists, begets, Malcolm X “Blue eyes Devil” among other names, they will do anything illegal for President Taylor to stay behind bars.

    Mr. Griffiths, “Unfortunately, the reality is, because the primary funders of this court want to see a Taylor conviction, I appreciate that these judges are under a great deal of pressure to convict. And I just hope that they will stay strong and sufficiently independent of mind not to bow to that pressure”.

  3. Again I think Mr. Griffirh exhibites fears in his part 2 session of the questions & Answers sepecially to my question of possible contempt charges against this defense team for their own witness Ynakubah Samateh AKA Yank Smyth’s contradictions that Benjamin Yeatent was punished by CT for the execution of Mr. Sam Dokie and his families,and Yeatent’s tied to the execution of a key witness who was indicted by this court before his execution, Sam Bockarie in Nimba County as CT testified that Yeatent was never punished, when confronted under oath witness stated that his written testimonies taken by Mr.Counteny Griffith lead CT defense team was changed with out his knowledge. and surprisingly Mr. Griffith’s response to my posted questions confirmed the case in point “his fears”. Griffith wrote and I quote “Well , as far as I’am concerned,my team are highly professional I would not change a witness’s statement without the leave of that witness, so if those are the charges being level against us, I don’t accept it.” un quote first of all Mr. Griffith needs to chill, I am not Nick Koumjain or anyone closed to this court, but in the intrest of justice if your own witness admits that you have changed his statements just to supports your views of the allegations in a case, is it the time for you & your team to resigned from this case in the intrest of justice based on this witness accounts during his contact with this team and who had all access to him?

    1. Ziggy Silas,
      Yeah I know you wish the defense team would resign. Stop grabbing for straws as can be seen by everyone that hands down the prosectution has lost this case.

    2. Tracey, why are you not quick to rush to the defense of the prosecution like the way you do for the prosecution? For example, Ziggy Salis is falsely accusing Mr. Grifitths when he said, “your own witness admits that you have changed his statements just to supports your views of the allegations in a case, is it the time for you & your team to resigned from this case in the intrest of justice based on this witness accounts during his contact with this team and who had all access to him?”

      Tracey, why are you not helping in regards to set the record straight or correct Ziggy Salis like what you normally do for the prosecution by saying the defense did not change Mr. Yanks Smythe’s testimony as Ziggy Salis is alleging?

      Taylor, I wish you luck. Yes, to me, this case is over. You have already won this lying case. But the powers don’t want to see you being a free man any more. I hope the judges will help justice by setting you free contrary to the wishes of America and Great Britain.

  4. I love his words “I do not respect David Crane. I think he’s racist” Not only he alone me too don’t respect David Crane for his double standard money game he is playing with the people of West Africa.

    Harris K Johnson

  5. I found it very interesting that Mr. Griffith did not really address the issues of contradicitons in the written testimony and the verbal testimony…i was waiting for him to say that maybe the testimony was not changed and the witness forgot his verbal testimony or something…Clearly the written statement seems to have been tempered with so the question is who did the tampering?
    Mr. Griffith stated that his team is highly professional yet a witness testimony seems to have been changed, and drastically the question is why is there a contradiction with these two testimony, according to the witness?…. who is responsible for that? Or is the witness lying about his written testimony being changed, or did he lie during his written testimony and is now (oral testimony) tellling the truth or vise versa, or could he have simply gave two different accounts of the same event, and forgot and if so, then why is his testimony not constant?

    1. Teage,

      The contradiction issues were vague and I told you before, but you wanted to argue. The man is very smart. Thank God he did not touch that ambiguous and vague contradiction question.

  6. Big B

    I don’t know where you got your assumptions from that Charles Taylor will win an election in Liberia. What legacy he left for the people of Liberia? Do you think we love to always live in torment and torture? It is because of Taylor that we are in total darkness without electricity and water and all our infrastructures are down. Look what has happened to this country over the years?

    God’s willing I will be back, that is the famous quote that he left with us. But God’s willing justice will prevail.

    1. Justice Lib,

      Yes. I agree with Big B that if President Taylor is allowed to participate in this coming election “HE WILL WIN HANDS DOWN.” In fact, there will be “NO” second round bro: it wouldn’t even be close. Anyways, beat Opong first Justice Lib.

  7. Justice Lib,

    I am not assuming anything here. It’s a fact. Hypothetically, if President Taylor is released from jail prior the 2011 Presidential election and he chooses to participate, he will win against the Sirleaf lead government. That’s reality my brother. According to John Morlu the UN Auditing General to Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government is the most corrupted government in the history of Liberia. Can you beat that? No, I can’t.

    It is not fair for anybody to blamed President Taylor for the destructions of Liberia. It’s a combination of Ellen, Kroma, Johnson, Sawyer, Matthews, Tepotah the entire crew.

    Ellen is not likeable; President Taylor will have no problem winning the election by a landslide. If you want to call my bluff, I challenged the US and the UK to stop the pressure and allowed justice to prevail. Yes?

  8. What is wrong with Mr. Griffiths? Is him so mesmerized by Taylor to such an extent that he will be so bold to claim “And there are real political reasons for that, because an acquitted Charles Taylor will be able to return to Liberia. And if he returned to Liberia and contests the election against the current incumbent, Charles Taylor would win.”
    Where are the backing to his claim?
    Taylor is an extinct volcano who has become very irrelevant to Liberia and Liberians.

    1. Morris Kanneh,

      Why are you blaming President Taylor again for Mr. Griffiths take on an acquittal Taylor? Are you saying no one can autonomously and independently make a statement free of his/her opinion without being mesmerized by this innocent man? UNBELIEVABLE.

      Morris, where did that come from, “extinct volcano”? Are you watching the discovery channel? However, sorry boss. Taylor presence is still and even more relevant in Liberia.

  9. Big B,
    Where and when did John Morlu the UN Auditing General of Liberia, says Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government is the most corrupted government in the history of Liberia?
    I bet you can’t provide a reference to that statement of Morlue.
    You, Taylor’s supporters should stop the deceptions. What Morlue said was that the Sirleaf’s government was thrice more corrupt than the Bryant’s government, an unprofessional statement done completely out of youthful exuburant. You only need to follow his recent statements to know that he is not proud of his thrice more corrupt statement.
    Let it be clear that I’m not a supporter of the Sirleaf simply for her indiscretion of supporting Taylor at the early stage of his war. I’m strongly against awarding warlords and their cohorts with state power and for that reason I strongly believe that Ellen doesn’t merit the Liberian Presidency.
    It is an irony, if not absurdity, that someone will hate Madam Sirleaf but love Taylor.
    Only in a person’s dream will him ever try to compare Taylor with Ellen. In any capacity save vices, Taylor is no match for Madam Sirleaf. From Educational background to professional background, I bet anyone to come up one thing positive that Taylor can beat Sirleaf in.
    Only in someone insanity will him attempt comparing the current Liberian government performances with those of Taylor. Anyway, anything is imaginable if you let your mind runs wild.

    1. Morris Kanneh,
      These are the actual words of John Morlu. “The Ellen led government is ten times corrupt than the Bryant led government”. This has been proven by the many audit reports indicating the thousands of dollars that are stolen by government officials including some officials right next to Ma Ellen’s presidential disk. It is an open secret that the entire government is corrupt expect for Ma Ellen. Please stop looking for reference because the references are right on the faces of Liberian people who are suffering this organized evil against them. Take a look around you or make a call home if you are out of Liberia.

      Harris K Johnson

    2. Morris kanneh,

      Hopefully this website may help you in reference to you reply to Big B. post concerning Ellen corruption saga. However, it was very clearly stated that the Gyude Bryant Interim Government was the “most” corrupt government in recent memory in Liberia History. nevertheless, the statement did not stop there. It continues by saying Ellen’s Government is 3 times more corrupt than Gyude Bryant’s Government. So Morris, what is in this thing you just do not understand? Check this website out Morris.

  10. I Know by the Grace of God President Taylor will be free from that problem
    God is in controlled.

    Liberian are all waiting for Former President Charles Taylor to arrive in West Africa/Liberia
    Happy to received Him with him happiness.

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