Prosecutors in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor have asked judges in The Hague to institute an “investigation into contempt” based on allegations that a defense investigator and other persons have attempted to bribe prosecution witnesses in order to have them recant their evidence before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
In a motion filed on February 3, 2011, prosecutors allege that one Eric Koi Senessie, a former member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) – the rebel group in Sierra Leone that Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly supporting, and Prince Taylor, an investigator for the Taylor defense team, made contacts with three prosecution witnesses. The three witnesses, Mohamed B. Kabbah (TFI-568), Aruna Gbonda (TFI-330), and a protected witness TFI-585), who testified against Mr. Taylor in The Hague, have made statements to the prosecution about the contacts made with them by Messers Senessie and Taylor. A fourth protected witness was also contact by the these two individuals, prosecutors say.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Senessie told each of the witnesses that he had been sent by Mr. Taylor’s defense team to persuade them to recant their previous testimonies against Mr. Taylor and testify before the judges again that their testimonies were false and were only given because of promises of money and relocation by the prosecution.
“In exchange for recantation and/or further testimony, Senessie told Kabba and TFI-585 that the Defense would give a ‘good cash reward’ or ‘huge financial benefit’ to cooperating witnesses…Senessie explained to Kabbah that these efforts were aimed at securing Taylor’s acquittal or a minimal sentence,” prosecutors stated in their motion.