International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Charles Taylor’s Lawyers Apply to Reopen Defense Case

Charles Taylor’s defense lawyers have made a request for judges to allow the former Liberian president to reopen his defense, almost one year after arguments in the case were concluded.

The motion, filed on January 31, 2012, requests that the defense be allowed to “re-open its case in order to seek admission of Panel of Experts Report on Liberia.”

The motion relates to a December 7, 2011 Panel of Experts Report on Liberia that discusses the participation of Liberian mercenaries in the conflict in neighboring Ivory Coast. Taylor’s defense lawyers seek to submit in evidence Section III of the report titled “Liberian Mercenaries and Ivorian Militia.” This section, defense lawyers argue “describes the continuing phenomenon and underlying causes of mercenary activities in West Africa.”

According to defense lawyers, this section of the report supports the defense “private enterprise” theory that during Sierra Leone’s 11 year conflict, many fighters in Liberia exploited the conflict for personal gain.

The report, defense lawyers say, does not blame the current Liberian government for Liberian mercenaries crossing into Ivory Coast in 2010 and 2011 and this, they say, contrasts the Prosecution’s argument that any fighters who fought in Sierra Leone and other neighboring countries were sent and controlled by Taylor while he served as Liberian president.

During the conduct of hearings in Taylor’s trial, witnesses, including those who were part of Taylor’s security apparatus, testified for the prosecution that the former Liberian president sent them to provide support to rebel forces in Sierra Leone. Some witnesses also testified about being sent by Taylor to fight in Ivory Coast and Guinea. Taylor, on his part, argued that porous borders in the West African sub-region and the illicit flow of small arms made it very easy for fighters to move across borders without being controlled by any persons in authority. Taylor’s defense also argued during the trial that Liberian fighters who fought in Sierra Leone did so only for their own personal gain and as President of Liberia, Taylor did not have any knowledge of such movement of Liberian fighters into Sierra Leone.

In this present motion, Taylor’s defense lawyers now argue this report supports their argument that during the Sierra Leonean conflict, it was possible for fighters to cross from Liberia into Sierra Leone “without being under the direction and control of Mr. Taylor and without the implicit approval of the Government of Liberia.”

“Additionally…free agents or mercenaries did so in pursuit of personal profit, rather than in furtherance of a sweeping joint criminal enterprise or aiding and abetting scheme,” defense lawyers have submitted.

Defense lawyers pointed out in their motion that the UN Report specifically names Ibrahim Bah, Benjamin Yeaten, Zig Zag Marzah and Sweet Candy” as persons involved in mercenary activities in Ivory Coast. These individuals, defense lawyers say, are continuing to exploit conflict situations in the West African sub-region for personal benefit. Of particular note, “the fact that Prosecution Witness Zig Zag Marzah has participated in the Ivorian Conflict as a free agent is particularly relevant to his overall credibility – on the witness stand, he seemed unable to act unless he was instructed to do so by Mr. Taylor,” the defense motion states.

Defense lawyers now say this report establishes that mercenaries can easily move between Liberia and Ivory Coast without being intercepted by the Liberian government, that command structures in mercenary activities are loosely defined, and that the present Liberian government has demonstrated inadequate response tomercenary activities.

In asking judges to allow them to reopen their case, defense lawyers for Taylor argue that the present report be admitted in evidence because it could not have been obtained by the team during the conduct of its case considering that it was only presented to the UN Security Council in December 2011. They argue further that the probative value of the report is significant and that it poses no threat or concerns toTaylor’s rights to a fair and expeditious trial.

This is the second time in two months that defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor have requested that the former Liberian president be allowed to reopen his defense in view of new evidence. On December 9, 2011, Taylor’s defense lawyers made a similar request after the release of two WikiLeaks cables suggesting that there was cooperation between former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the United States Government to remove Taylor from Liberia with promise of asylum and immunity from prosecution if he were to leave willingly and that Obasanjo provided support to Liberian rebels who were fighting to oust Taylor from Liberia.

The judges, however, on December 21, 2011 rejected the defense application.

With the most recent application that has been made by the defense, the prosecution will have a chance to file a response, with an option to the defense to file a reply before the judges issue a decision on the motion.

Judges have taken several months since the conclusion of hearings in March 2011 to prepare their final judgment, which will determine whether Taylor is guilty or not of the charges against him. It is expected that such judgment will be delivered shortly. 

 

 

25 Comments
  1. Sekou,
    Is there anywhere on the Web that we can read this motion to reopen the case or the Panel of Experts report the motins refers too?

  2. I hope Judge Julia Sebutude has not been bought over. She has now been appointed by the UN to serve as a judge at the World Court in the Hague.

  3. Thanks QC. You are really a great man. This is what we have been saying all these long years that Taylor is not in no way responsible for crime they say he committed. Thanks to the panel report. Like we say in Liberia, God is not sleeping.

    Harris K Johnson

  4. Excellent move by the defense, even though, defense motion will be denied. Notwithstanding, by the mere fact the defense brought this up in my opinion will have an impact on the judges’ decision. The case is closed, different from defense rest…going back and reopening the case in my opinion set a bad precedent. Brillent move by Perry Mason et al.

    BBC News – Africa’s Fatou Bensouda is new ICC chief prosecutor
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16029121?ref=nf

    • Point of correction, after reading defense motion to re-open posted by Sekou, I retract my previous comment. I believe defense meets the “twofold test” motion should be admissible under the circumstances.

  5. Guilty It is…
    Charles Taylor was over exposed by prosecusion lawyers for gaving false statement to this court during his testimonies and now it is too late to rewrite those statement. Mr. Griffith’s attempt to prolong this much awaited verdit will not fly. enought is enought GUILTY it is…

    • You can say what you want, but please understand that court proceeding is a process. Remember the prosecution reopened its case when they said they were done.

    • ZIGI,
      Taylor will never be guilty…keep dreaming..ZIGI, I bet my HEAD. The western powers are not stupid. The brother will free and live like NELSON MANDELLA

  6. Oh boy!
    Wow!
    Any end in sight to this saga?

    • There’s no end, it seems, my brother. Let the support group continue with their’ifs’,buts,and all the justifications they can come up with..taylor is doomed and nothing to save Him! It’s all ‘wishful thinking’ for the talorbans! Gunks!

  7. It is not a surprise to some of us that the defense team of Mr. Taylor has discovered new evidence that will lead to his eventual acquittal as this case is more political than legal. What a contradiction on the part of the west to confirm the defense case.

  8. Dear cen,

    Comment is made in reply to your post dated on February 2, 2012 at 1:36 am and February 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm respectively.

    It is good to hear that you are well.

    I do believe that the Prosecution’s cross of Mr. Taylor concerning his release from jail would have proven exculpatory in nature also. It would not have proven any reasonable drought in this case; my opinion of course.

    Yes Judge Sebutinde demonstrated fairness in her search for the evidence.

    No, I have not paid any attention to the ICC’s trial of the post election violence in Kenya. I think that it is long past due however that the African realize he has no right to commit violence against his fellow African over election results. I believe we must rely on the ballot rather than the bullet; whether it is the people or the State who seek to protect.

    I believe that this UN Report will form some reasonable drought concerning the establishment of Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) since there is no evidence that Mr. Taylor actually traveled to Sierra Leone to engage in military actions against that Government.

    The defense has visited this point before in their submissions; on September 9, 2010.

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1071/SCSL-03-01-T-1071%20PART%201.PDF

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1071/SCSL-03-01-T-1071%20PART%202.PDF

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1071/SCSL-03-01-T-1071%20PART%203.PDF

    It may be that you have reviewed the Trail Chamber’s decision concerning the WikiLeaks release of two United States embassy cables relating to the ongoing trial against Mr. Taylor, but I will provide you with the link to the filings concerning that Motion.

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1254.PDF

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1255.PDF

    Prosecution response to defense motion to re-open its case in order to seek admission of two documents.

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1256.pdf

    Defense reply to prosecution response to defense motion to re-open its case in order to seek admission of documents

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1257.pdf

    Decision on Public with Annexes A-B Defense Motion to Re-Open Its Case in Order to Seek Admission of Two Documents.

    See link: http://www.sc-sl.org/scsl/public/SCSL-03-01-Taylor/SCSL-03-01-T-1258.pdf

    In particular, the Chamber found;

    “7. At the outset, it is undisputed that the two Cables, while dated 5 June 2003 and 12 August 2003, were only published by the website Wikileaks on 28 June 2011 and 30 August 2011, respectively, months after the Defence had closed its case in-chief and the proceedings were officially closed. It is also undisputed that the Defence filed its Motion on 9 December 2011, months after the public release of both Cables.

    8. The Trial Chamber recalls that it has the discretionary power to re-open a case for the introduction of new evidence only in exceptional circumstances. The Trial Chamber further recalls that the first consideration in determining an application for re-opening a case to allow for the admission of fresh evidence is the question of whether, with reasonable diligence, the evidence could have been identified and presented in the case in-chief of the party making the application. In this instance, given the confidential and classified nature of the Cables, the Defence could not with all reasonable diligence have obtained and presented the said Cables during its case in-chief.

    9. The Trial Chamber notes, however, that the Defence failed to justify the further delay between the disclosure of the Cables by Wikileaks in June and August 2011 and the filing of the Defence Motion in December 2011. In its Reply, the Defence submits that it has “diligently assessed the probative value of over 50 code cables which bear some relation to the case and which were released through WikiLeaks during the summer of 2011″and that “this process of review and internal consultation has led the defence to seek admission of a minimal amount of material these two cables.” However, it did not provide any reasonable explanation justifying the length of time it took to review these 50 cables. The Trial Chamber does not accept the assertion of the Defence that “no amount of diligence on the part of the Defence could have resulted in earlier disclosure of the documents” and considers that the Defence neglected its responsibility to act with due diligence once the documents were published.

    10. In weighing the probative value of the proposed evidence vis-a-vis the need to ensure a fair trial, the Trial Chamber has taken into account the following factors, namely,

    (i) that the proceedings are at an advanced stage;

    (ii) that the probative value of the evidence the Defence seeks to introduce is not of substantial weight, noting in particular that it tends to duplicate similar evidence that has already been admitted and is part of the record; and

    (iii) that much of the evidence the Defence seeks to introduce is evidence of opinion that is inadmissible under Rule 92bis. In the circumstances, Trial Chamber is of the view that it would not be in the interests of justice to grant the Defence Motion.”

    Take care,

    Sekou

  9. Good to see that everyone ignored the only foul mouthed dunce on the site. Nice one guys! You don’t have to join issues with uncultured entities. My opinion is that the motion would not go through as the defence is battling those behind the curtains and the two bought judges already have their verdicts. You can tell since Alpha Sesay knows the verdict will be out “shortly”. “Open Society” indeed! .

    • rgk007 is back with rubbish and indirectly putting blame where it does not belong! Taylor is the subject here; It is alleged, taylor supplied the RUF with arms to wage a war of diamond smuggling syndicate operation that left 250,000 dead! It’s great none of your love ones were affected and you can continue to case taylor behind. But for victims in this case, the struggle continues until we see justice done to all of you culprits! Sunks!

      • I’m glad the gutter mouthed entity has answered his name. That’s good enough for the civil people. I never have for once lost sight on the issue at hand unlike yourself running around like a loose canon for want of something to say.
        Culprit! I actually thought there were phsychatric hospitals in the U.S. I see you count yourself as a victim yet going about making empty threats of war. None of my loved ones were affected but that does not make me a bitterly vindictive dunce.
        I’ll put a letter “k” in for you because your posts smells like a SKUNK.

  10. is this sekou nkrumah….to sekou

    • Dear maniak,

      If you are asking whether I am Sekou Nkrumah? The answer is no.

      Take care,

      Sekou

  11. Dear Aki,

    I am not sure if you have located the complete Panel of Experts Report on Liberia, but he is the link dating back to 2001.

    See link: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1521/liberiaPOE.shtml

    Take care,

    Sekou

  12. Sekou,
    Yes thanks I have read it. I also heard that both the prosecution and defense have filed counter motions on whether the case should be re opened to allow these documents. I guess a ruling by the judges will be very soon.

  13. Back in April of 2011……I asked this very concern

    On April 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm, Noko4 said: Momo,
    The question we should be asking WHY ISN’T ELLEN BLAMED FOR THOSE LIBERIANS IN IVORY COAST???

    I wish the defense can append this story to tell the judges, no one has control over Liberians if they wish to bless their wishes and wants.

  14. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should be charged with using “child soldiers” in the NPFL war. Here is a verbatim segment of her June 1990 testimony before the American congress:

    “This revolt symbolizes a civil war which encompasses regions of the country where more than two thirds of the Liberian people live and the greatest resources are located. These people, MANY OF THEM CHILDREN, have joined this struggle for freedom, with little more than courage and hope for the future. It is within this context that the uprising represents an opportunity for creative transformation of the Liberian landscape.”