International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

At Prosecution and Defense Oral Arguments on Sentencing, Charles Taylor Makes Public Statement

Today, convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor made what might be his final public statement in court before Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague as his defense lawyers and prosecutors made oral submissions on the possible sentence he should serve after being convicted for his involvement in Sierra Leone’s 11 year civil conflict.

After being granted 30 minutes to address the Court, in a gray suit, white shirt, and a light blue tie, Taylor stood in front of the witness stand, using what seemed like his last public statement to address not only the judges and parties to the proceedings in court, but also to the “world audience.”

The former Liberian president started by stating that the “observations” he … Continue Reading

133 Comments

Defense Lawyers say 80-Year Sentence Excessive for Charles Taylor

Defense lawyers for convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor have told Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) judges in The Hague that the prosecution’s request for Taylor to serve a maximum of 80 years in jail is “disproportionate” and “excessive.”

In their sentencing submission filed on May 10, 2012, defense lawyers noted that “the 80-year sentence advocated by the Prosecution is manifestly disproportionate and excessive; it is not justified.”

On April 26, SCSL judges found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of all crimes charged in the 11 count indictment against him. The judges noted that Taylor was not liable for the actions of the rebel forces in Sierra Leone under the doctrines of command responsibility or joint criminal enterprise. … Continue Reading

80 Comments

Morris Anyah is Now Lead Defense Counsel for Charles Taylor’s Appeal

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has today announced a change in the composition of Charles Taylor’s defense team as Morris Anyah, formerly a co-defense counsel, has been appointed as the lead defense counsel to handle the former Liberian president’s appeal. It is understood that this change in his defense team  has been announced with the consent of Mr. Taylor, in line with his right to be represented by counsel of his choosing.

On April 26, judges in The Hague convicted Mr. Taylor of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The former Liberian president is entitled … Continue Reading

70 Comments

Prosecutors Want Taylor to spend 80 Years in Jail

Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague have recommended that convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor be sentenced to a maximum term of 80 years in jail for crimes committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002.This recommendation was made in a sentencing submission made to Trial Chamber judges yesterday. On April 26, three-judge panel found Tay

31 Comments

Charles Taylor Found Guilty

Today, Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) judges in The Hague delivered the Court’s long anticipated verdict in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, finding him unanimously guilty of all charges against him on grounds that he knowingly aided and abetted rebel forces in Sierra Leone and that he planned attacks during which atrocities had occurred.

The prosecution charged Taylor with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law that were allegedly committed from November 1996 to January 2002 during the course of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The prosecution claimed that Taylor backed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone and had ties to a second warring faction, the … Continue Reading

99 Comments

Resource Documents in Advance of Taylor Judgment

Dear readers,

The judgment in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor will be announced on April 26 – one week from today – at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, the Netherlands.  We have monitored the trial for the past four years and have put together some resource documents, which can be accessed below. In addition, our Legal Officer, Alpha Sesay, will be using Twitter to send out live updates from the courtroom on the day of the judgment. You can follow him at @sesayalpha.

Taylor is charged with 11 counts of  war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, allegedly committed from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002 during the … Continue Reading

58 Comments

Judges Dismiss Taylor Defense Request to Change Date of Judgment

The Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague have unanimously dismissed a request by former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s defense to change the date for the delivery of judgment.

After the announcment that the judgment to determine Taylor’s guilt or innocence will be delivered on April 26, 2012, defense lawyers filed a motion requesting a change of date because Mr. Taylor’s lead counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, has prior engagements in proceedings in the UK that cannot be changed. In addition, the defense argued that delivering the judgment on the eve of Sierra Leone’s independence will pose a security threat and add a bad taste to the country’s celebrations. Sierra Leone celebrates its 51st independence anniversary on April 27. Prosecutors opposed the defense request, urging the … Continue Reading

151 Comments

Taylor Defense Wants Date for Judgment Changed; Prosecutors Disagree

Defense and Prosecution lawyers in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor are in disagreement over the date for the delivery of the judgment. The Defense wants to postpone the April 26 date of the verdict announcement, which was scheduled by the Special Court for Sierra Leone  judges less than one week ago.

On March 1, nearly one year after the evidence phase of the case closed, the judges issued a scheduling order confirming that the trial judgment in the former Liberian President’s case will be delivered on April 26, 2012.

Five days later, on March 6, defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor filed an urgent motion requesting a change of the date for delivery of the judgment from April 26 to … Continue Reading

15 Comments

As Newly Elected Presiding Judge, Justice Richard Lussick Could Deliver Final Judgment in Taylor Trial

On January 18, Justice Richard Lussick from the Republic of Samoa was elected as the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II, which is the chamber of judges that has heard evidence in the case of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor has been on trial for his alleged involvement in the bloody conflict in Sierra Leone that lasted from 1991 to 2002. As Presiding Judge for a period of one year (starting January 2012), it means that the final judgment in the Taylor trial could be delivered by Justice Lussick.

Trial Chamber judges have spent the past several months reviewing the evidence submitted by both prosecutors and defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor. When the evidence phase of the case was concluded in early 2011, it … Continue Reading

39 Comments

Special Court for Sierra Leone To Hold Contempt Proceedings

Special Court for Sierra Leone judges have issued orders for two seperate contempt proceedings to be held in respect of allegations that several individuals have attempted to contact prosecution witnesses with bribes for them to recant their evidence against accused or convicted persons.

The first contempt proceedings relate to allegations that persons acting on behalf of the defense for Charles Taylor attempted to bribe several prosecution witnesses, including those with protective measures for them to recant their evidence against the former Liberian president who is on trial for allegedly controlling and providing support to rebel forces in Sierra Leone. Prosecutors say that Mr. Taylor is responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed … Continue Reading

524 Comments