At a status conference today in The Hague, the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges created a schedule for the closure of the defense case. The status conference was held pursuant to an application that was made last week by defense lawyers for Charles Taylor after the former Liberian president’s 20th defense witness concluded his testimony.
When court resumed this morning for the status conference, defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Terry Munyard, indicated that the defense “still have and are still working on a number of motions.” Mr. Munyard reiterated, “I am not ruling it out but it’s unlikely that we’ll call any other live witnesses.”
Mr. Munyard proposed to the judges that after the end of this week, the court be made to take a recess for two weeks. After the two week recess then the judges would take one week to determine decisions on outstanding motions. Following that, the court would resume the week of October 4, 2010 with a status conference to close the defense case.
“This will enable us to close our case a full month period before the time that you had ordered us to close our case,” Mr. Munyard said, indicating that the judges had ordered that the defense close their case in November 2010.
When prosecutors were asked to make a response to the defense proposals, Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis told the judges, “It is not the parties who decide the management of the case but the Trial Chamber.”
She proposed that the “defense be given until the end of next week to file any motions they intend to file” and that there be “no recess until the end of the evidence of the trial.”
After a brief recess to deliberate on the issues, the judges returned with the following rulings:
1. The defense will file any submissions they are supposed to have filed by September 24, 2010.
2. The court will hold a status conference on Monday, September 27, 2010 during which it will look at the volume of pending motions.
3. On September 27, the court will determine a date for another status conference; and
4. A court recess will commence on Tuesday, September 28, for two weeks.
The court recess will last until Monday, October 11, and court will resume on Tuesday, October 12, 2010.
With this schedule, the defense will formally close their case within the stipulated time frame, which will be followed by closing arguments by both prosecution and defense, before the judges retire to assess the entire evidence and issue their final decision on Mr. Taylor’s innocence or guilt.
The court was then adjourned and will resume with a status conference on Monday, September 27, 2010.