Judges Deny Prosecution Request For Defense Witness Statements

Despite prosecution fears that their case will be “irreparably prejudiced” if they do not gain access to important background statements by Charles Taylor’s current defense witness, judges today disagreed, and ordered cross-examination to start on Monday.

Fayia Musa, a Sierra Leonean national and former spokesperson for Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group has this week been testifying for Mr. Taylor, who is on trial for allegedly providing support to the Sierra Leonean rebels as they committed crimes during the country’s 11-year conflict. Mr. Musa, who was an RUF insider, has denied prosecution claims that the former Liberian president had control over RUF rebels, telling the judges that Mr. Taylor severed all relationships with the RUF as far back as 1992.

As the witness concluded his direct-examination today, prosecutors made an application to the judges that the witness’s cross-examination be postponed, citing reasons that Mr. Musa had testified about events which were not contained in his written statements disclosed by defense lawyers.  Prosecution counsel, Nicholas Koumjian, told the judges that the prosecution will suffer undue and irreparable damage if the cross-examination of the witness was not postponed.

“This summary indicates that this witness only had one relevant topic to provide evidence on and that is the trips around the sub-region for fund raising. Now he’s testified about many other facts including personal interactions with Charles Taylor. Are these recent inventions? The prosecution can only know that if we see the witness statement and the original statements that this witness gave,” Mr. Koumjian said.

He added that “So we are irreparably prejudiced if we don’t get the statement to see if all these interactions with Charles Taylor that this witness testified to that are not in the summary. So the witness summary is patently insufficient.”

Mr. Koumjian asked for the witness’ previous statements to the defense, and for a short postponement before cross-examination starts.

Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths, opposed the defense application, arguing that the witness’s statement had sufficient information to assist the prosecution in their cross-examination of the witness and that the prosecution had enough time to research any necessary information about the witness. He asked the judges to deny the prosecution’s request for additional statements of the witness to be disclosed as well as the request to postpone the witness’s cross-examination.

“How is he now unable to cross-examine given that all of the material disclosed by this witness has been in the public arena for a very long time indeed?” Mr. Griffiths asked.

He went on that “it would seem to us that the prosecution has failed miserably to place before this court any evidence that they have in fact been prejudiced, that’s the important word, irreparably prejudiced by the so-called paucity of the content of the summary.”

“In our submission, they have neither shown nor sought to show why they are unable to commence their cross-examination now. So in summary, we would submit that both of the applications [disclosure of more witness statements and postponement of the cross-examination of the witness] made by Mr. Koumjian should be refused,” Mr. Griffiths concluded.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the presiding judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Chamber, Justice Julia Sebutinde, ruled that while the witness summary disclosed by the defense to the prosecution was insufficient, such insufficiency was not gross. Justice Sebutinde also stated that prosecutors had not demonstrated any undue or irreparable prejudice that they would suffer if the defense did not disclose additional information or statements about the witness’s testimony.

Reading the ruling of the Chamber, Justice Sebutinde said that “the prosecution motion for disclosure of the witness statement is therefore denied.”

She added that “However the Trial Chamber does agree with the prosecution that the witness’s evidence-in-chief did span over areas not specifically mentioned in the summary and to this extent, the summary could be considered as insufficient although not grossly so. As mentioned in our prior rulings, the proper remedy in that case is to allow the prosecution sometime to prepare its cross-examination in relation to those areas not contained in the summary.”

The witness’ cross-examination will start on Monday.


  1. It is apparent that the prosecution has been devastated by this witness Fayia Musa. He along with other witnesses have stated categorically that all war support by Mr. Taylor for the RUF ended in 1992. Furthermore he has shown that Foday Sankoh had a disdain for Mr. Taylor for several years after 1992.

  2. Why is the prosecution crying foul with almost all the defense witnesses. I really think the prosecution is intending on prolonging this case. Now that the judges have discovered their tricks, granting them more time on other witnesses will be hard to give.

    1. Dan,
      They were/are NOT ready or prepar(ed)….simple!!! This case started in ’03 with the prosecutors having a head start and today we are hearing TIME OUT PLEASE BECAUSE WE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THAT…silliness and stupidity to say the least.

  3. And we march on!!! The prosecutors didn’t get prepare and ready for this case from day one; they seriously thought this case was going to be like ALL cases in the Hague. The defendant goes CRAZY and SILLY giving the prosecutors the upper hand to bring anything in court and it becomes FACTUAL EVIDENT but Mr. Taylor was ready to tell the US and Britain that whatever mess they started in the jungle will be fought out in city for the world to see.

    I don’t know what would have been gained if the requested was granted but I too didn’t see a SOLID reason for her to be given such rights. I believe the judges saw that NOWHERE from their earlier requested by Ms. Hollis that prompted the case to be halted for weeks.

    Who were the prosecutors’ INSIDERS……Mr. Sheriff, who turned out to be a liar and Mr. Blah, who turned out helping the defense more. So far, the defense last batch of witnesses have sealed this case…if the Spokeperson can be on the defense side, telling the court that the relationship ended in 1992, what are the judges to think about the link and the charges???

  4. Noko,

    When you say “they seriously thought this case was going to be like ALL cases in The Hague,” what are you insinuating about cases at The Hague? Flesh this out a little as you are sending a condescending message about all court cases tried at The Hague.

    Also, the denial, overruling, or granting of motions or objections by the judge(s) to the defense or persecution does not mean the judge(s) are favorably disposed to or courting one party to the case as has been the scenario with some of the cases we have seen and heard about in Liberia before and after 1980. It does not signal a celebratory mode. That’s how the legal process works and it shows the impartiality of the judges. Hold tight…for the final verdict in this case might surprise you.


    1. Davenport,
      The previous case in the Hague, Mr. Molisavic(sp) went coco and his defense was destroyed with ease. All I am saying is, The POWERFUL HANDS in this case didn’t think Mr. Taylor was going to put up such a fight and a fight which he is winning hands down.

      Here we have SENIORS member of RUF telling us what went on in the front and in the back Davenport regardless if we don’t believe a word they are saying. The FACT reminds, they are on the defense side…that speaks volume.

      I am CLEARER??

      1. Hi Noko4 — Can you please explain further what you are saying about the Milosevic trial? I’m not quite sure. Mr. Milosevic died in the middle of his case and there was never any judgment rendered.

        1. Traecey,
          He did die in the middle of his trial but his behavior was STRANGE. That’s what I am talking about.

      2. Noko,

        What the deal with this Bosnian leader and his defense “being destroyed with ease”?
        Could you please flesh it out some more?
        I might be wrong but you could be off track with this comparison…


        1. Davenport,
          Can you compare what we are seeing to his?? He was his ONLY defense and when he took the stage, he went coco.

  5. God’s children are waiting for that final day when the trumpet of NOT GUILTY shall sound, God’s childern in the North, South, East and West shall sing and shout FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY HE’S FREE AT LAST!

    1. Big B,


      You raised an important liberation theme. I like thematic dialogue.

      Please allow me to say a few words about “FREE AT LAST.”

      Much as I admire this slogan “FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY HE’S FREE AT LAST!” I believe there is a striking militaristic, political, socio-religious polarization between Martin Luther King from whose lips came these words you quoted and Charles Taylor.

      Comparatively, MLK chose the path of nonviolence to achieve racial equality while CT the path of violence and bloodshed. Of the two men, one (MLK) was noble in his philosophical outlook, temperament, and understanding of love for humanity, even love for his enemies, while the other, CT, had absolutely no reverence for human lives; he was vicious and embodied what that defense witness calls “a devil[ish]” character and predisposition. CT led a campaign that brought the lives of many innocent people to an end.

      Comparatively, the Rev. Dr. MLK led a march against socio-economic and political discrimination and systemic oppression against minorities especially African-Americans. The result or triumph of that march is seen in the election of an African-American president in 2008. MLK’s march for equality and desegregation and against discriminatory practices was long and hard and was fought through the very white socio-political system that personified and constructed systemic bigotry. Like Malcolm X MLK could have adopted a more radical, violent stance but he did not. CT on the other hand led a march best described as a shortcut, short-circuited, personally vindictive, bloody, militaristic, and murderous. CT had a personal ambition: it was one of the most vicious politico-military usurpation ever – to forcibly seize the presidency and empower himself, his family as well as his cronies socially, politically, economically, and militarily and leave the Liberian populace out in the cold begging to eat the crumbs from their table.

      Comparatively, when we put this famous lines in context and make an analytical evaluation between the individual who spoke these lines and CT, we will find CT wanting. In terms of temperament, quality of character, rationality, rhetoric, and methodology CT is unfit to unbuckle the shoes of the Rev. Martin Luther King.

      I will argue that in our current civilization, greatness and respect comes not by personal vendetta and killing of innocent people as CT did; it comes through persistent, patient political dialogue with the corrupt and contemptuous establishment.


      Please post this, Tracey, and delete the other post to my brother, B Big. Many thanks for your understanding.

      1. Davenport,
        It’s subjective how one categorized President Taylor. But, for me and many others we see a different Charles Taylor than the Charles Taylor you described.
        Despite, M.L. King believed in nonviolence etc… there were people that disliked him. So, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, not everybody is going to like you. Jesus Christ was disliked.

        My dear bro, the time is near, when God’s children shall sing and chant the song of victory, FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY HE’S FREE AT LAST!

  6. Thanks Davenport,
    People get so carried away with every motion denied or granted and begin to celebrate. Not only that, but how can anyone in their rational mind compare CT and MLK? One was for peace and non-violence and the other was for war and blood shed. One was for marching from Selmer to Montgomery for equal rights and the other was for going from street to street, house to house, looting and killing innocent people. Where is the comparison? Some of you need to wake up and join the real world.

  7. Sansee and Davenport,

    Perhaps it is time for you all to wake up and join the real world. The comparison made was done by Davenport in the first place. Whether you all like it or not both Taylor and MLK did fight for the freedom of their respective people. It is irrelevant how that fight was perpetrated. Desperate sickness sometimes does demand desperate medicine.

    While I do not subscribe to violence in any form, I am not naive to believe that there are times when peaceful means do not always work. If you disagree you only need to look at all the wars around the worl that the US and its allies have been involved in. It is not always possible to accomplish things without some form of coercion.

    You all need yto wake up to the real worl as even the UN has force as a last resort as part of its actions under Chapter 7. Go figure.

    1. Helen,
      Thank you for this post
      These guys are also failing to acknowlege that, even the great USA that almost the world atlarge depend on today, had major civil conflict which brought into place serious changes that every one of its citizens and none citizens are more or less benefiting from today….and I will always tell people on this site. If the politicians in Liberia don’t put their acts together, WAR WILL RETURN…We the people will never rest until our fundamental rights as citizens are observed by whosoever in power today or tomorrow…….

      1. I really dont’t believe the Liberian people will stand for any warmongers to go and disstabalize their peacful life under Ellen! Beat the war drum as loud as you may but that’s were it ends..for anyone that attempts it this time around will regret they ever live, because they may not live to tell the story!

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