At a status conference held on Monday, September 27, 2010, defense lawyers for Charles Taylor told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that in their estimation, they will not rule out the possibility of calling any live witnesses, even though they have been clear that they do not have any such live witnesses in waiting. Whether to call new live witnesses or not will depend on the ruling of the judges on outstanding motions that they have already filed, defense lawyers said.
Stating the position of the defense team, defense counsel Terry Munyard informed the judges that “the defense position is as it was on previous occasions.”
“It is very unlikely in our estimation if we’ll call any live witnesses, but we can’t rule it out until we have the court’s decisions on our outstanding motions. But it is very unlikely,” Mr. Munyard said.
He added, “I am not suggesting that we have anybody [witnesses] in the pipeline.”
Mr. Munyard also asked that prosecutors be made to disclose details of all payments they have previously made to potential defense witnesses with whom prosecutors had prior contact.
Such disclosures relate solely to “potential defense witnesses, who were treated as potential prosecution witnesses before they became defense witnesses,” Mr. Munyard said.
In her submission, Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis said that while her team was willing to make the necessary disclosures as earlier ordered by the judges, she was not sure of the specific names of potential defense witnesses that defense lawyers were talking about because the defense had earlier filed a list of over 250 witnesses as potential defense witnesses, most of whom she said had only been identified by pseudonyms.
Mr. Munyard clarified that they already had the names of the specific witnesses for whom disclosures were required.
Ms. Hollis further asked the judges to set a definite date for the closure of the defense case, saying that the defense did not have a right to an open-ended date for the closure of their case.
“We do ask your honors to set an end date for the close of the defense case. They do not have a right to an open-ended date,” Ms. Hollis said.
After a brief recess, the judges ordered, as requested by defense lawyers, the new date for a status conference will be set at October 22, 2010, rather than October 12 as earlier planned. Presiding judge of the chamber Justice Julia Sebutinde also told defense lawyers that on the October 22 status conference, the judges expect that defense lawyers will be very clear about the closure of the defense case.
“[On October 22], we intend to hear submissions from the parties and a final statement on closure. We really do not hope to hear the kind of statement you [defense] have been making…we really expect a final closure,” the presiding judge said.
Justice Sebutinde also added that on October 22, the judges expect to “hear submissions on time limits for filing briefs for final arguments and other incidental matters.”
Court will resume on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:00AM.