Charles Taylor’s defense witness today denied prosecution suggestions that he received money from court officials as an incentive to testify before taking the witness stand on behalf of the former Liberian president in The Hague.
As the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor’s fifteenth witness, “DCT-190”, finished today, prosecutors focused on payments made to him in connection with his appearance at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as a defense witness. The witness denied receiving money as an incentive for his testimony, telling the court instead that its Victims and Witness Section (VWS) indeed provided some money for him — but that such money went towards medical services, transportation and accommodation. He did not physically see the money paid on his behalf.
While being involved with the Charles Taylor team, have you received any payment from the court?” prosecution counsel, Kathryn Howarth, asked the witness.
“No,” he said.
Ms. Howarth asked the witness whether he had received an amount of 899,000 Leones (about USD $230) for medical services.
“I had a tooth ache and was treated and my daughter was ill and taken care of but I don’t know if it went up to that amount,” he said.
Ms. Howarth put before the witness a WVS document titled “Expenses incurred on DTC-190,” which itemized the amounts of money spent on the witness and the purposes for which said monies were disbursed.
“As I have told you, this is a figure that is shown but I was taken to the hospital and given treatment,” the witness said when asked again about the 899,000 Leones.
The witness agreed that he received about 760,000 Leones (about USD $200) to cover expenses relating to transportation from his work place in Sierra Leone’s provinces to the country’s capital. Ms. Howarth pressed the witness on the number times he had travelled to Freetown and whether the amount was justified. The witness said he travelled to Freetown twice.
Ms. Howarth also pointed out that the witness received about 497,000 Leones (about USD $130) for miscellaneous expenses and 250,000 Leones (about USD $64) as attendance allowance. While the witness said he did not know what the meaning of miscellaneous allowance was, he denied in clear terms that he had received money for an “attendance allowance.”
“I am completely unaware of attendance allowance. Nobody has ever given me money for attendance allowance,” he said.
When asked about WVS’s expense of 360,000 Leones (about USD $92) on his accommodation while he was being prepared for his testimony, the witness said “that is correct, for my hotel.”
Ms. Howarth pointed out that a total amount of 2,772,000 Leones (about $706) was spent on the witness based on the document provided by WVS.
“I’ve never received that amount of money. The money they are claiming, one of it was paid for medications, so I’ve not received that kind of money,” the witness responded.
The witness explained that if the money was spent on him, it could be justified because he would not be expected to leave his job, pay his way to Freetown and then pay his own accommodation bills without any support from the court. He, however, denied receiving physical cash from court officials.
“But I’ve told you I never received physical money from the court. In Sierra Leone, what we call physical is when they give money to you — but they did not come and show me receipts that this is the money we have spent on you,” the witness said.
As the witness concluded his testimony this morning, the judges granted a defense request that the trial be adjourned until Monday, July 5, 2010 because Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, has been ill and unable to prepare the next witness.
The trial of Mr. Taylor will resume next Monday.