On Request By Prosecutors, Court Suspends The Cross-Examination of Defense Witness

Based on a request by prosecutors, the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today suspended the cross-examination of Charles Taylor’s defense witness whose direct-examination was concluded this morning by defense lawyers for the former Liberian president.

Charles Ngebeh, a Sierra Leonean witness and former arms repairer for Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), has been testifying for Mr. Taylor, who is on trial for allegedly providing support to RUF rebels while as leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group and as president of Liberia. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations against him.

As Terry Munyard, defense counsel for Mr. Taylor concluded the direct-examination of Mr. Ngebeh today, prosecution counsel, Ms. Brenda Hollis, requested that the cross-examination of the witness be suspended because certain things to which Mr. Ngebeh testified had not been contained in his statement disclosed to prosecutors. She told the judges that the information provided by defense lawyers was insufficient for the cross-examination of the witness.

“Prosecution therefore is unable at this time to cross-examine this witness because of the inadequacy of the summary. We are unable to achieve the purpose of cross-examination, which is to test the evidence for the benefit of the fact-finders, that is, for the benefit of your honors. That’s why cross-examination is allowed and that’s why it’s so important,” Ms. Hollis told the judges.

Ms. Hollis further added that there were inconsistencies in the witness’s oral testimony in court and his written statement made to defense investigators.

Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Mr. Munyard, objected to the prosecution’s request for the suspension of the witness’s cross-examination, telling the judges that the prosecution had not given enough reasons to delay the cross-examination of the witness.

According to Mr. Munyard, “the test for the court to determine is whether the prosecution has demonstrated such undue prejudice that it is in the interest of justice to disclose the statement. In other words, what the prosecution is saying is, without the statement, we can’t reasonably proceed to cross-examination. In our submission, of course they can reasonably proceed to cross-examination.”

After hearing arguments on both sides and conferring with her colleagues, presiding judge, Justice Julia Sebutinde, issued a ruling that while agreeing with the prosecution that the witness’s cross-examination should be suspended, his written statement disclosed by defense lawyers did not necessarily contradict his testimony in court.

“The Trial Chamber is of the view that although the summary is inadequate, what little there is of it is not necessarily inconsistent with the witness’s testimony given in chief. The Trial Chamber therefore finds that the proper remedy for the prosecution complaints is to allow the prosecution some time to prepare its cross-examination of the witness in respect of those parts of his testimony that were not contained in his summary,” Justice Sebutinde said.

This is the second time that prosecutors have requested the suspension of the cross-examination of a defense witness. As Mr. Ngebeh was led out of court today, another defense witness, John Vincent, a Liberian from Bomi County in Liberia, took the witness stand. As defense lawyers commenced the direct-examination of the witness, the court adjourned for the day.

Mr. Vincent’s direct-examination continues tomorrow.


  1. The prosecution seems to be in disarray. This is the second time they have not been able to start cross examination after the direct was completed. I truly believe that they didn’t expect the defense team to be able to get RUF members to come and testify that Charles Taylor did not support their cause during the indictment period.

  2. Look prosecution, just admit, there is no case against this innocent man. Can someone just call it a day by saying, GO HOME, THERE IS NO CASE?


    1. Calm down Buddy. Taylor knows his days are numbered. His days as your commander are fading fast! His sentence is imminent and again let me say this; taylor was accused of 11 counts and has not responded through his innocence to them. You are just making unnecessary noise here. How would you tell the Court to let this man go just because Jose and few supporters say so? You see, some think they can become “bully” and an annoyance to jutice by shouting loudest and thus winning sympathy from justice! Wrong; because I told you guys at the beginning of this trial that it is not a matter of “rally” to the chief; rather a cry for “justice” to the victims of taylor’s calculted systematic crimes committed in the name of ‘liberation.’

      1. Fallah,
        Where were you when he said “NOT GUILTY”?? You must admit that his team has out scored the prosecutors.

        Yes his days are NUMBER for I cannot see him in jail. TWO WEEKS Fallah, TWO WEEKS, the prosecutors were given a list of witnesses to be call and to come today in court and asked for TIME OUT??


  3. Aki,

    Okay, well, good.

    One exception though: in a court of law the defense or prosecution does not always have to grill every single witness brought on stand. Frankly, I will be flabbergasted if CT defense cross examined every single prosecution witness that took the stand and will be equally surprised if the prosecution cross examine every single defense witness especially when each side is parading on an average 600-800 witnesses ( I stand corrected on these figures, Alpha). It is non-compulsory…but having revisited the transcript for today, I think in this case it is technical and like you alluded to, this is merely a suspension of cross examination to review documents earlier submitted by the defense…the witness might be brought back. So hold tight.

    Help me out here, Alpha, if I am wrong.


    1. Davenport noko 7,
      Please explain how come you and some others are able to respond to post so quickly? It usually takes several hours for me to see what has been posted then another several hours before my response is put on the blog. Are you all using something other than internet explorer ?

        1. Davenport Noko7,
          I was asking a serious question but since you want to be funny disregard what I asked. For your info although I live in Liberia I was born and raised in the United States so I know about time differential.

        2. Aki,

          If the hindsight of my humor came through or was more pronounced, I am sorry.

          A direct response to your question: Yes, I used internet explorer.

          Thanks, brother. But if you are having difficulty, I will redirect you to Tracey and Alpha, or some technical expert.

          Once again, thanks, my friend, and have a wonderful day.


      1. Aki,

        You and I, mere commentators, are clueless to the operation of this site regarding what comments are in the “awaiting moderation” queue…I would redirect you to Tracey and Alpha for help…but as I see it your comments were the first to be posted on this particular transcript. Did you want to be the last and not the first?


    2. the prosecution requested the court to order the defence to provide it with all statements obtained from the witness in order to effectively cross examine the witness given the fact the the summary presented by the defence was inadequate and contradictory. But the defence objected saying that a summary is not expected to be a detailed document and there is no contradiction between what was in the sumary and the evidence the witness gave hence the court should not grant the request.

      In their ruling, the judges agreed with the defence that the summary was not contradictory with the evidence but that it was inadequate. hence it allowed the prosecution more time but disallowed the motion to request the defence to provide the prosecution with the witness summary.

      1. Sam,

        Are you having trouble with the fact that not all witnesses brought on to the stand are crossed examined by the prosecution or defense team? If so, then don’t because you are looking at fact in the eye on this one. Sometimes the defense or prosecution may choose not to cross examine a witness for any (explained or unexplained) reason including “a waste of time on a particular witness.” This is factual, very factual…


        1. Noko 7,
          The point I wa making has nothing to do with the choice of a team to cross examina a witness or not. What I posted was to suppliment Alpha’s summary which in My view was incomplete especially given the fact that he did not mention the fact that the Prosecution requested requested the court to order the defence to provide it with all documents in the posession of the defence in connection with the witness in order to effectively cross examine the witness. They also requested more time in order to study those documents that they were requesting before begining cross examination. While it is true that in some cases a team either defence or prosecution may choose not to cross examing a witness.The prosecution in this case never said they were not intrested in cross examining that witness.

    3. Noko7,
      Stop making EXCUSES please!!! Every SINGLE WITNESS the prosecutors put on the stand was CROSSED by the defense!!!! Some were asked few questions and that was it but I cannot remember the defense asking for MORE time to PREPARE….I stand corrected if so.

      Two weeks are believe is the NOTICE period along with preparetory notes submitted by each side…..

      1. Cousin Nok,

        I welcome and applaud your views on this particular issue but the hypothesis underpinning your views borders on factual error and here is why. Generally, in dispositions and trials, attorneys representing the prosecution or defense have the legal leverage to cross examine every single witness that takes the stand but they are not forced to cross if they opt not to.

        Cross examinations, as you know, are advantageous to both prosecution and defense teams and there are at least two types of cross examinations as succinctly described below from research:

        • Supportive (Concession Based) Cross-Examination: This type of cross is employed when you want to ask questions and get answers that support and advance your case. In a supportive cross, you won’t use your questions to attack, pillage, and plunder the witness. Instead, you use cross to obtain favorable information, e.g., admissions, fill-in-the-gaps in the story facts, etc., from the witness. Think about it. If you can develop favorable evidence from the opposition’s witness, you can then argue, “Their own witness said – blah…blah…” It adds credibility to your evidence if it comes from an opposing witness. If you are going to rely on the evidence from an opposition witness, it may not make sense to attack the credibility of that witness. Occasionally, the testimony on direct may be so helpful to your theory of the case that you simply have the witness repeat it on cross and pass the witness (take note of this cousin as it has permeated this trial).

        • (2) Discrediting Cross-Examination: A discrediting cross-examination occurs when you attempt to discredit the believability of a witness’ factual testimony by showing that it doesn’t jibe with common sense and/or with what others say. You may want to use cross to show what the witness does not know or what the witness did not do in investigation.

        Now, cousin, vital to cross examination is the search to affirm the controlling questions or the established theory and this is all tactical in the legal sense to winning or losing a case. (A note on controlling or leading questions: the prosecution or defense has to invest quality time mastering the unusual method of putting words in a witness’ mouth by leading questions. This has been noted throughout this case as in any court case).Therefore, both parties to the case might seek for every chance to cross examine a witness for the reasons just stated BUT THEY ARE NOT FORCED TO CROSS EXAMINED, IF THEY CHOOSE NOT TO – and this is the premise for my argument; nothing else.

        I stand corrected by folks who by virtue of training can speak authoritatively to this issue of cross examination.


        1. Cousin,
          Both sides have access to ALL STATEMENTS of all to take the stand….but they don’t CONTROL as to who testifies.

          Again, every witness that the prosecutors had on the stand was CROSSED by the defense. There were some few questions were asked..I remember a female that was rapped was put on the stand….she indicated that she had MULTIPLY LOVERS and her story was not connecting based on her own time line. Mr. Griffith decided NOT to nail her to the cross but rather asked few general questions and she was let go….

        2. Cousin,
          I really admire your biblical inspired language ” nail her to the cross.”

  4. This prosecution team is a joke, and Mr. davenport.Noko7 you’re not kidding us here.. Right? The defense did crossed every single witness except for 1-2 victim witnesses and off course, when Griffiths ask who Chopped off your hands, the response was good enough for Griffiths to stop …… Jose!! pls pick it up because you’ve already stated the answer many times on this blog. How can a witness not be cross, especially if the witness testimony is detrimental

    So many flaws in this prosecution case, intro to new evidences, I’m not ready yet countless times, Paid agents of lies, countless delayed etc. can any sound minded human believe Taylor can be convicted on such wheeze, disorganized and unethical evidences? NUH Nuh Nuh

  5. Military science teaches that one of the most effective principles of war is SUPRISE. Whenever you take your enemy by surprise, the better chance you stand to destroy his ability to fight back. I’m sure Jose will agree with me on this. But others will wonder what I’m trying to point out here. My point is that the defense has greatly surprised the prosecution by the standard of witnesses being paraded so far. In my reading the prosecution thought the defense would have never produced any witness that is knowledgeable about events inside West Africa as it relates to the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone base upon the less time the defense had to gather witnesses as compare to the prosecution who took a little over three years to garter evidence(s) against Mr. Taylor. It is shameful for the prosecution to be asking for time at this point, but we all know why. THEY DON’T JUST HAVE A CASE.


    Harris K Johnson

  6. Fellows, especially fellow Liberian, can any one tell me if Sierra Leonian pronounce, speak better than Liberian. I am gutted why someone, a Sierra Leonian will have to interprete while a Liberian is testifying in this case. I know we as Liberian are fast speakers, but that does not means that we can’t pronounce well, this is nonsense.

    1. Amax2020,
      I believe the interpretation is more for the citizens of Sierra Leone since this case is based on the activities of Sierra Leone.

    2. amax2020,
      Unfortunately this is the case now for many Liberians who feel they are speaking english. The language has become so bad that sometimes It is as if they are not speaking english. I understand this is not unique to us alone. For example Ivorian french is much worst than Guinean french from what I have been told

  7. Hey Guy

    It is hard to brake the truth, this is why the prosecutor is haven a hard time dealing with these witnesses.
    Guy as we go along we will see these guys suspending cross examination one after another,because they simply do not know were to start their cross from.

    We are here and watching



  8. The court is yet to convince the world that yes indeed Mr.Taylor is even 75% guilty or else he might just walk out like a conqueror

    1. Martin are you talking about 75%? hardly has this prosecution conviced anybody upto 20% that Mr Taylor is guilty! I just pity Ms Hollis she is a well qualified professional who is trying her best to salvage an awfully dismal job David Crane did in puting this indictment together and gathering evidence in the first place. Infac t David Crane is solely to blame for the position the prosecution finds themselves now. infact if not for the brilliance of Ms Hollis, this case would probally have been thrown out by now.

      1. Sam no one is to be blame for the position this prosecution is facing now. They did not just have any case against Mr. Taylor. Is just out of hate.
        Let me tell you something thi indictment was to decourage Mr.Taylor from conducting general and presidential elections in Liberia which he should have wone because of his popukarity. This action give way to the kind of leadership we are having right now in Liberia.
        So there have been no case. I am just so sorry for Mrs. Hollis she will find it very hard , she truly a good lawyer but argue a case without a good foundation is a problem.

  9. Hello guys.

    I think if Taylor is not guilty, they show let him go and pay him every second he’s been kept away from freedom! That court is loaded with conspirators who only want it their way, and not the fair way.

  10. I’m not totally convinced that Mr. Taylor did not instigate in the SL conflict. The fact that Mr. Taylor had a previous relationship with the RUF and the SL government supported a group that attempted to over throw Mr. Taylor draws me to the conclusion that it would have been in the best interest of the Liberian government/President Taylor, for the RUF to overthrow the SL government. Mr. Taylor openly admitted he had a source in which arms were supplied to him. Former NPFL fighter were involved in the SL conflict. Mr. Taylor was acting liaison to the RUF. This is a court of law and a person is innocent until proven guilty. If there is a doubt about a person guilt unfortunately that person should remain innocent. All the pieces are there but Mr. Taylor and his defense witnesses testimony are making me believe that all these piece the prosecution has uncovered are just a coincidence. I have doubts about Mr. Taylor involvement in the SL conflict. In my opinion as this trail continues it’s shedding light on how complex the SL conflict was. In addition it’s beginning to seem like the whole region instigated to some extent in the SL conflict but only Mr. Taylor “got caught with his hands close to the cookie jar”.

    1. Al,
      The GUESSING GAME is over….we are in court and let the FACTS be presented. so far, ZERO to convict you will agree regardless if you think or believe he was the MAN behind the curtains.

      1. Noko4,

        No need for me to respond to Al Solo Nyonteh. However, you have said it all. Extra-ordinarily good respond and points Noko4.

        Al, President Taylor hands were never caught in any cookie jars. You wish. Too bad Al.

        1. Jose

          I never said caught “in the cookie jar” (I said “close to the cookie jar”) and that the problem with the prosecutions case. They can’t say, we caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. They are trying to get Mr. Taylor to explain why his hands were “near the cookie jar”. So far Mr. Taylor has done a great job explaining.

          Noko 4

          You are right we are in court and there is no time for guessing in the court of law but the fact remains all of the piece in which “suggest” Mr. Taylor instigated in the SL conflict are there. But I’m going to have to agree with you in the name of justice. Because “guessing”, “suggesting”, nor “assuming” has no place in the legal system.

  11. Al,
    What “FACT REMAINS”??? Can you please point one CONCRET of the REMAINS as to him been the instigator??

    1. Mr. Taylor acting as liaison to the RUF tells you he instigated in the SL conflict. Like you said earlier there is no need for guessing. The trail is trying to determine his intentions. It is clear as day Mr. Taylor was right in the middle of the SL conflict. The question is what his motives were. Sad to say, Mr. Taylor version of peace keeping purpose seems more realistic (due to the evidence supplied) sounds more realistic then the prosecution version of he was supporting the RUF in exchange of financial gains (due to the fact the prosecution can’t furnish Mr. Taylor financial gains). My point is Mr. Taylor needs to make it clear to the people his involvement in the SL conflict (if innocent) or be punished for his involvement in the SL conflict (if he is guilty).

      1. Al Solo Nyonteh,

        President Taylor never acted as a liaison for the RUF. Where did not come from, “liaison or instigation”? Al, when you agreed with Noko4 that there is no need for guessing, you are undermining your own montage by guessing. Stop guessing Al Solo Nyonteh. State the facts and the relevancy here.

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