The Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague yesterday issued an order for Charles Taylor’s defense lawyer to appear before them on Friday, February 11, 2011.
Mr. Taylor’s trial in The Hague has been a center of drama this week as the former Liberian president’s defense lawyer, Courtnay Griffiths, walked out of the courtroom on Tuesday, telling judges that it was not in his client’s best interest for him to take part in the closing arguments. On Monday, the judges had rejected the defense final trial brief because it had been filed 20 days late. The defense said they were waiting for the judges to deliver decisions on outstanding motions before they would conclude and file their final brief.
On Wednesday, defense lawyers failed to appear in court, with Mr. Griffiths telling the media outside the courtroom that his team will not take part in the proceedings as long as their final brief was not accepted by the judges.
The court had scheduled Friday, February 11, as the day for both prosecution and defense lawyers to make rebuttals to each other’s closing arguments. Mr. Griffiths has insisted that he will not be present in court on Friday.
On Wednesday evening, after Mr. Griffiths failed to appear in court in the morning, the judges by majority (Justice Julia Sebutinde dissenting) issued an order directing that Mr. Griffiths to appear in court on Friday and that unless he apologizes for his action of walking out of the courtroom on Tuesday, a sanction will be imposed on him.
The order, which was issued by a majority of the judges, “Directs Lead Counsel for the Accused, Courtenay Griffiths to attend court on Friday 11 February 2011 at 11:30 and warns Lead Counsel that unless he apologises for his behaviour on 8 February 2011 the Trial Chamber may impose sanctions pursuant to Rule 46 of the Rules and Proceedure and Evidence.”
It is yet unclear whether Mr. Griffiths will yield to this order from the judges.
Court resumes on Friday, February 11, 2011 at 11:30a.m.