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

Dear Readers – here is the third and final instalment of answers to your questions by Courtenay Griffiths, Charles Taylor’s lead defense counsel. We look forward to seeing your comments and responses.

QUESTION 15: Who is paying for Mr. Taylor’s defense? And what does it mean for him to be partially indigent – how does that work?

Based on the following comments:

On March 5, 2010 at 8:59 pm, john thompson said:

Why did he decide to take on this case and how much is CT paying him or is his work pro-bono.

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

Hello Tracey & Alpha.
These were asked before, but have been revised given the recent testimony (although I confess that I haven’t been able to follow the trial too closely, so I apologize if some of these questions have already been answered — although even if they have, I would appreciate Cllr Griffiths views on them too.)

1. I understand that Mr Taylor is ‘partially indigent’. Can you please explain:

a) What does it mean to be ‘partially indigent’?

b) What is Mr Taylor’s current financial situation?
c) Does he continue to receive any income from any investments, businesses or otherwise?

d) The UN Panel of Experts disclosed that:

i. Mr Taylor owns property in his name in Monrovia worth hundreds of thousand of US $; and that,

ii. Since 2003, the company PLC has received millions in US$ from Lonestar cellphone company in Monrovia
Is this correct?
e) Does Mr Taylor have any other assets?
f) There is confusion regarding Mr Taylor’s bank accounts. Can you confirm that the US accounts had ~$5 billion in transactions? How much of it was ‘new money’ (as opposed to sweep account transactions)?
g) if the purpose of the LBDI account was a ‘covert account’ from which to buy weapons in violation of UN Security Council sanctions, why is the account in Mr Taylor’s own name? Wouldn’t it have been more useful to keep a covert account in an unknown name (given the ‘Suspicious Transaction Reporting’ regulations that existed at the time)?

2. a) How much of Mr Taylor’s bills are being covered by the Court?

b) Presumably the Court is paying for his keep while standing trial, but does this also extend to other expenses, such as his clothing? Who pays these bills?


Well, the Special Court for Sierra Leone is paying for his defense. So I’m not being paid privately by Mr. Taylor. In fact, I took a major cut in income in order to take on this case. I’m certainly not defending Mr. Taylor for the money. And he’s partially indigent because, whereas he does own some property in Liberia, at present, as I understand the situation, because of the asset freeze he’s unable to realize any equity he might have in such property. And of course, you appreciate that the prosecution, despite repeated suggestions that he’s got billions stashed away, haven’t managed to provide evidence of any of it. So consequently, that’s the situation so far as my retention is concerned, and also his status as a partially-indigent defendant. 


QUESTION 16. What is your thoughts on the UN Travel Bans and assets freezes of Mr. Taylor’s associates – do you think it is fair?

Based on the following comments:

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

8. a) Can you explain your position on whether or not the UN Security Council was justified in sanctioning Mr Taylor personally as a threat to regional peace and security?
b) Were they justified in sanctioning anyone or any other company with regards to the conflict in Sierra Leone?
c) How can these individuals ensure that they receive ‘due process’ while at the same time allowing the UN to try to reduce conflict in the region?
d) Likewise, in this trial, how do you think due process/fairness is best achieved when documentary evidence is difficult to obtain? What do you think of using witness testimony? How do you think the judges will be able to sort through contradictory testimony? Do you think this is an advantage for the defense or the prosecution (given the asymmetric jobs that they must do regarding proving guilt vs. raising doubt)?

On March 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm, Helen said:

Mr Griffiths ,
What measures are in place to deal with those on the UN Travel Ban and Asset Freeze who were placed there because of “ongoing to ties to Mr Taylo,r” considering that they have no recourse to justice in their own rights under any legal national jurisdiction? Could this issue be dealt with at this quasi-international level considering there apears to be no legal basis for this action by the UN and that this punitive action is directly linked to their “ties to Mr Taylor”?

What is the implication for the trial of Pres. Taylor and witnesses? What is the implication for interational justice and the rights of these individuals vis a vis Mr. Taylor?


I think they’re totally unfair. I think they’re totally unfair. I can well understand such conditions being placed on Mr. Taylor, because he’s the defendant. And until they prove these allegations, in particular about his ownership of all these hidden assets, then I can now understand why an asset freeze should be placed on him. But it’s also being placed on his former wife, who as a consequence is unable to work and earn a living, and it’s caused her extreme hardship. And a lot of the other people on that travel ban as well cannot even travel out of Liberia to get medical treatment. I think it’s totally unfair.


QUESTION 17: Who else should have been indicted?

Based on the following comment:

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

9. Given that the SCSL was to try ‘those most responsible’, do you believe that there are other international actors that were most responsible that should have been indicted? Who and why?


Yes, I do. Let’s start off in Sierra Leone. I think President Tejan Kabbah should have been put on trial. I’ve never understood how his defense minister, Hinga Norman, could have been put on trial for atrocities committed by the CDF, when he, the president — that is the person most responsible for the actions of his underling, the defense minister — wasn’t put on trial. Why not? That is inexplicable. And the other people who should have been put on trial were past members of the British government who were complicit in and implicated in the whole Sandline saga, when in breach of the United Nations arms embargo on Sierra Leone, they brought arms into Sierra Leone, which further fed the conflict and led to the further suffering of the Sierra Leonean people. So I think perhaps, you know, Prime Minister Blair should have also been in the dock over this. But he does have family connections with Sierra Leone so he should, one would have thought, known better.

QUESTION 18: How long do we have to go with the defense case?


Well, I hope that the defense case will finish some time round about the middle of the summer. That is my serious hope — that if nothing untoward happens we should be close to the end then. Because frankly, you know, I was hoping to get back to the United Kingdom soon. I will have been engaged on this case for three years come this July. It’s a lot of time to be earning far less than I usually did when I was in the United Kingdom and I need to get back there because I’m suffering quite acute financial hardships now.

QUESTION 19: What do you think of the outreach that’s being done around the Taylor trial in Liberia and Sierra Leone?


I think in Sierra Leone they’ve made magnificent efforts, and I applaud them, to reach the people and to allow people – particularly out in the rural areas – to be able to follow the trial. But hardly in Liberia  — a similar effort has not been made, and I think it’s a crying shame. And I think what is even more shameful is the fact that the government in Liberia has done nothing whatsoever to support the outreach program, even though she [current Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] is the one who handed over their former citizen and president to the special court for trial.

QUESTION 20: This is your first trial in an international justice tribunal and I wondered that, given what you’ve gone through with this trial, if it is over for you with international justice?


Oh no, no, no. I would love to be involved in another case, particularly here at the ICC. Because now that I’m beginning – now that I’ve seen it firsthand — I can see the injustices that can take place in the international arena.  And furthermore, given the focus of the ICC on Africa and African defendants, I, as a black man, feel that this is an area where my expertise should properly be deployed. I’d love to do more work in this area.  Aluta continua.


  1. Thank you Mr. Griffths for for your time and effort in defending Mr. Taylor.
    We hope and pray that justice and fairness will prevail.

    1. Thank you Mr. Courtney Griffiths for all that you have done for our country Liberia and President Taylor in this seemingly international conspiracy trial against this innocent man and Liberia. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is Liberia that is on trial Today.

      Again, thank you Mr. Griffiths

  2. Mr. Griffiths,

    What can I say? There you have it folks. Mr. Griffiths has one more stood up for true justice. All I can say sir, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND THANK.

  3. Hello Tracey,
    Thank you again for asking Mr Griffiths these questions — unfortunately, his answers are evasive, leaving more questions left unanswered once again!

    Do you know, Tracey, how much “the Special Court for Sierra Leone is paying for his defense”?

    Mr. Griffiths is also factually incorrect about the assets freeze, at least as far as the UN Panel of Experts report would have us believe. That is, none of Mr Taylor’s assets have been frozen in Liberia (or anyone else’s for that matter), and thus Mr Taylor–or someone–has access to them.

    It would be very interesting to know what Mr. Taylor’s assets really are. Unfortunately Mr Griffiths hasn’t helped shed any light on this.

    1. Questions — let me find out the exact figures on payment by the Special Court to the defense if I can.

      1. Tracey,
        What was the reason the questions that was chosen for Mr. Griffin was questions he had been ask before and everyone knew what his answer would be? Did Mr. Griffin have a say in what questions he would answer.

        1. Ken, please note that Tracey is away this week and i’m sure she will respond to your question when she returns next week.

    2. Questions,

      Is it the UN Panel of expert report that imposes asset freeze or asset freeze is imposed by the security council through a resolution. Please grant us the fact the Griffiths misrepresented in his comment on Taylor’s asset freeze. Support your assertions with facts. Do not make blanket comments like the prosecution.

    3. Question,
      You’re CORRECT…as far as I know, no one on the list of the UN submitted to Liberia have had their assest FROZEN or SIEZED in Liberia. They may have such done in other countries but NOT in Liberia. Pres. Johnson-Sirleaf has tried and tried; using the the front, back and side doors but the Constitution met her tries dead on.

      Mr. Taylor did declare is WORTHS including all he owns in this court during his testimony, sorry if you missed that but find time and read his testimony mainly under CROSS by Ms. Hollis.

    4. Questions,

      Please specifically state here on this website for the record what Mr. Griffiths factually stated that was incorrect of the Asset Freeze? Please Sir/Ma’am, tell us what he said that was wrong in connection to the U.N Panel of Experts Report. I am waiting for your answer/s so we can discuss it. Also, take all the time you need to do your research, but please answer the questions Questions.

  4. Hello questions,

    I believed you must have read a bit too much into Mr. Griffiths’ response.
    From my understand Mr. Griffiths unequivocally stated, from his understanding because of the asset freeze, President Taylor is unable to turned his asset into cash. Any cash Taylor has will be freeze and turned over to the victims of Sierra Leone. That’s the reason the prosecution is looking for the so-called billions of dollars broad day light with flashlights for David Crane and the victims of SL.

    Furthermore, Mr. Griffiths stated that for the length of time he has been defending President Taylor, he would have made more money in his private practice than what the SCSL is paying him. I hope you are not implying that Mr. Griffiths should produce his earned income from his private law firm to compare it with his SCSL income? I don’t think so.

    Mr. Griffiths is an honorable man; his statement is not ambiguous at all.

  5. Well friends,

    One thing I know, is that, I will never vote for Prince Johnson to become President of the Republic of Liberia neither Ellen. But I support Prince Johnson move to contest the Presidency of the coming election. My reason is very simple. I want the International Support for the rebel Grandmom, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to be even more expose. Check this out folks. Ellen name has being called in the TRC Report, but there is no major report on her decision by the international press corps. But however, as soon as Prince Johnson made his pronouncement, you have big major international media jumping all over it. For example the “BOSTON GLOBE”. Tracey, I love you. STOP DEFENDING THESE KINDS OF THINGS. YOU MAY NOT BE SEEN CREDIBLE ANYMORE LIKE THE WAY MOST LIBERIANS USE TO SEE YOU. DON’T JOIN THESE GUYS. THESE GUYS ARE ALL BUNCH OF LOSERS. WE ARE USING THEIR OWN GAME THEY HAVE CREATED AGAINST THEM. MA’AM, WE DON’T LOVE ELLEN, WE LOVE TAYLOR.


  6. questions,

    Are you asking about the actual amount Griffith gets paid? I don’t think you can get such answer very easily because, the funds are paid to taylor’s defense TEAM. How it’s distributed is the defense business but Griffith clearly said, he’s been paid far less then what he was making, so it’s your home work to go and research how much he used to make before, how much the defense team is been paid now and divid it amongst the defense team employees including the investigators in Africa and all the behind the scene folks

  7. Quetioning Mr. Griffiths any further is like questiong taylor supporters on this blog about taylor’s involvement in crimes against Humanity nor recruitment of child soldiers, and etc.. Not only has Griffiths shown “unprofessional” attempt to paint the US and Britain as “racist” nations, but also thinks that the Judges are baised and unfair in how the are handling this case; even though Graffiths,himself, fails to address the main reason this trial was moved to the Hague.
    These are the types of “professionals” in my belief, that are bad “role models” for our third World Nations! If this Man, who, is supposed to be objective, begins to cry foul about defending a client that he knows fully well, commited so much crimes, what is the present generation of Africans supposed to learn about such crimes against civilians in the near future?
    We need to leave Mr. Griffiths alone so his own concious will be the judge. He has accumilated lots of fortune out of this trial and seems to care less about the plights of thousands that lost thier lives! Thank you very much Mr. Griffiths.

    1. Fallah Menjor,

      Stop distorting Mr. Griffiths statement on purpose. He never said what you are saying that he said of the trial judges. However, he expressed dissatisfaction in the Appeal Chamber and not the Trial Chamber. What I remember him saying of the trial Chamber judges is that, they are fair, but they are also under enormous international pressure from both Britain and America. So, where are you coming from with this other lie Fallah? UNBELIEVABLE!!! Fallah, be advised that there is a different between trial Chamber and Appeal Chamber. they are two different chambers

      Fallah, you claimed that Mr. Griffiths has accumulated lots of fortune from this trial. Where did that come from? Where are you leading us bro? The man said he had a pay cut. However, he’s losing money as the result of this case. JESUS CHRIST. Nonetheless, where is this fortune that Mr. Griffiths has accumulated in this trial. Fallah, Please stop lying on this man.

  8. Now this is how you answer QUESTIONS and CONCERNS!!!!! Unless Mr. Rapp who gave us NON MEANINGFUL answer.

    Yes, why isn’t Pres. Kabbah on trial?? And we’re seeking JUSTICE?? I wonder how does Alpha feel about that situation; Pres. Kabbah deputies are in jail but he’s free…..Alpha I know you and Tracey DO NOT answer to question on this case but this is not about the case but Sierra Leone. What is your take about Pres. Kabbah not been on trial??

  9. Mr Griffith,
    You have a very deep understanding of the people you are dealing with,I’m not sure Mr Bangura(Sierra Leonean Prosecutor),Mr Kabba or Ellen Johnson understands.For their selfish and short term gains,they”ve tried to open the doors yet again to the tormentors!!,and hope to condem our childrens children to centuries of psychological dependency.

    I worried some African countries are in danger of being colonialised yet again in the 21st century,as there are some groups in Africa who tend to accept (due to their lazy minds)that the route to prosperity and righteousness is through these same old usual suspect…….Well Usual suspect to the clear mind…because these groups based on their greed and lack of forsight will never see it coming.

    I beg you to grow up ,TRUST ME YOU HAVE OPTIONS the world is MULTI POLAR…have some courage and stand dignified

    Oops Tracey!
    Eventhough this is obviously a polictical trial….I seem to be moderated whenever i say something polictical.

    Just trying to unmasked the mischieve makers.!!!

  10. Noko4
    Here is the interesting part regarding Kabbah. Why this same court could not have applied the same standard to Taylor that it was the actual field commanders who should be held responsible for the acts they committed on the battlefield.

    If Kabbah could not be held responsible for the actions of his deputies than Taylor should equally not be in this court. Let them go and hold Taylor deputies but we know why, this case is a political trial and it is not about justice.

    1. King G,
      That’s the BIG ELEPHANT in the room… put one Leader of a country on the stand; by the way, that Leader was NEVER EVER on foot in the theater but leaves out the Leader who had a DIRECT LINK to the war…..he was the CIC of his troop; his deputies are locked up, the last witness for the prosecutors told us his limbs were chopped off by the SOLDIERS OF THE SIERRA LEONE ARMY…..

      Where is the FAIRNESS regardless of what you think and feel about Mr. Taylor??? FAIRNESS is what I want….put all on the stand and let the evidences and facts be the rules.

      Alpha, I am still waiting for you take on Pres. Kabbah not been put on trial.

      1. Hi Noko4!
        I have been writing about this international criminal called Tejan Kabbah for a long time.
        The reason he is not in the dock, is because he is been protected by Tony Blair: remember that, Kabbah signed off the diamond fields to “London Mining“ and, we are trying to figuge
        out the extent to which Blair is involved in this company -“London Mining“.
        If Siaka Stevens was a vulture that swooped down upon us, Tejan Kabbah is a rat he, undermines us!

  11. Hello all,

    To respond to the request to clarify:

    Mr Griffiths reportedly said:
    “And he’s partially indigent because, whereas he does own some property in Liberia, at present, as I understand the situation, because of the asset freeze he’s unable to realize any equity he might have in such property. ”

    I pointed out that this is factually incorrect. None of Mr Taylor’s assets have been frozen in Liberia. Liberia has clearly stated that no assets have been frozen. When the NTGL tried to freeze the assets of Mr Urey and Shaw, the Supreme Court ruled that the approach the NTGL had used was improper. Since then the Panel of Experts has reported that no funds have been froze.

    I would be happy to be proven wrong, but those are the facts as have been made public.

    Therefore, when Mr Griffiths says that “because of the asset freeze he’s unable to realize any equity he might have in such property. “, it seems implausible — even if the houses are sitting empty, they could be sold.

    Moreover, the UN Security Council will allow frozen funds (if they are ever frozen) to be released for humanitarian purposes — which I would suppose would (should?) include paying Mr Taylor’s defense, given that the freeze is not meant to be punitive, only to ensure that the money is not spent to undermine peace and security. I shouldn’t think that the UNSC would consider Mr Taylor paying Mr Griffiths to be undermining peace and security.

    I also note that Mr Griffiths didn’t answer the bigger question about Mr Taylor’s assets. He only said that the prosecution hadn’t provided evidence. (Although the prosecution DID show evidence of private bank accounts in the US — albeit to evade UN sanctions, according to Mr Taylor). However, I appreciate that it isn’t Mr Griffiths duty to explain to us where Mr Taylor’s assets are.

    But it does seem improper for Mr Taylor to claim “partial indigence” (which honestly sounds like “partially pregnant), when in fact he does have assets that could be used to pay his legal bills.

    On that note: Tracey, is there any more information on the legal costs of Mr Taylor’s defense ?

    1. Hi Questions — I have asked Mr. Moriba at the Special Court is he could provide us with any information he can about the breakdown of the legal costs of Mr. Taylor’s defense. I promise I will share them with you and all the readers here as soon as I get hold of them.


  12. i need a contact on Defense attorney Courtenay Griffths for Charles Taylor: 002316610798 0022566167875: thanks

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