Prosecutors should not be allowed to reopen their case against Charles Taylor and the court should not issue a subpoena order for supermodel Naomi Campbell, defense lawyers for the former Liberian president said today in a written motion to Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague.
Mr. Taylor’s lawyers are responding to a request made by prosecutors that the judges issue an order for the reopening of the prosecution’s case or to bring evidence in rebuttal against Mr. Taylor. After closing their case against Mr. Taylor in February 2009, prosecutors have asked that they be allowed to present three new witnesses, who will testify about a diamond gift allegedly given by Mr. Taylor to supermodel Naomi Campbell while they were both on a visit to South Africa in 1997. The three persons whose evidence prosecutors seek to submit as new evidence are Ms. Campbell herself, Mia Farrow, and Ms. Campbell’s former agent Carole White. Prosecutors say that Ms. Farrow will testify about being told by Ms. Campbell that Mr. Taylor had sent men to her hotel room after a 1997 dinner with former South African president Nelson Mandela and that the men had given her a diamond gift allegedly from Mr. Taylor. Ms. White, prosecutors say, will testify that she was present when Mr. Taylor said he was going to give the diamond gift to Ms. Campbell and that she was present when the men arrived and delivered the said diamonds to Ms. Campbell. As Ms. Campbell has been reluctant to testify about the incident, prosecutors have asked that the judges issue a subpoena to oblige the supermodel to testify about the incident before judges in The Hague. In their response today, defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor have called both motions unnecessary and have urged the judges to deny both requests.
In the “Defense Response To Prosecution Motion To Call Three Additional Witnesses,” which was signed by Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths, defense lawyers stated that “The Defense strongly opposes this motion on the basis that no reasonable Court could find that the anticipated evidence is relevant to the charges against Mr. Taylor.”
“Furthermore, the prosecution should not be allowed to trivialize the seriousness of the proceedings and charges against the Accused by adducing tangential and highly speculative testimony into evidence,” the defense response states.
The response further states that “The issue of Mr. Taylor’s interaction with the AFRC/RUF [Armed Forces Revolutionary Council/Revolutionary United Front] junta, the issue of diamonds and the issue of his credibility has been thoroughly explored and and addressed as part of the Prosecution case-on-chief. Consequently, additional witnesses are not needed to elaborate on these same issues.”
“Simply put, there must be finality to the proceedings. For the Prosecution to present such an inferential evidence, as part of an obvious publicity stunt, would bring the administration of justice into serious disrepute,” defense lawyers say.
Defense lawyers make detailed arguments in their response that prosecutors have no legal basis upon which to reopen their case, that they did not exercise due diligence in their investigations of Mr. Taylor’s alleged possession of diamonds, that the evidence has no probative value, and that its admission would affect Mr. Taylor’s fair trial rights as an accused.
“Thus the Prosecution Motion must be denied,” the defense response concludes.
On the request by prosecutors for a subpoena to be issued for supermodel Ms. Campbell to testify on the same issue, the defense response states that “The Trial Chamber should refrain from exercising its discretion and issuing a subpoena for several reasons:”
These reasons, defense lawyers say include “Naomi Campbell’s evidence is of low probative value and is tangential to the real issues in the case.”
“Secondly, the evidence that Naomi Campbell could put before the court is obtainable elsewhere. Thirdly, the Prosecution must be aware that Naomi Campbell will likely be a hostile witness and should not be allowed to subpoena her as such. Finally, the Trial Chamber should be cautious about issuing an order that might not be enforceable.”
“The Defense contends that Naomi Campbell’s only utility would be to bring unwarranted media attention to the proceedings, it cannot be said that her testimony is necessary to try the case fairly,” defense lawyers say.
The response concludes that the prosecution request should be denied by the judges.
Inside the courtroom today, Mr. Taylor’s 12th defense witness, Joseph Menson Dehmie, concluded his evidence, telling the court that witnesses lied when they testified before the court that Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group in Liberia recruited children for combat purposes under a unit called the Small Boys Unit (SBU) or that the NPFL displayed human skulls at checkpoints to instill fear in civilians. When Mr. Dehmie stepped down as a witness, Mr. Taylor’s 13th witness, a Sierra Leonean witness only identified by his pseudonym DCT-292 commenced his testimony.
Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly providing support to RUF rebels in Sierra Leone through the supply of arms and ammunition in return for diamonds. Mr. Taylor has denied all the allegations against him.
DCT-292’s testimony continues tomorrow.