International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Appeals Hearing in Taylor Case Postponed

Today, judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone postponed the appeals hearing in the case of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place tomorrow and Friday of this week. The Appeals Chamber has now set a date of January 22, 2013 for the hearing to commence.

On April 26, 2012 the trial chamber convicted Taylor of aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes including rape, murder, and destruction of civilian property by Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council forces in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The judges also found that Taylor helped to plan attacks on three towns, including the diamond rich town of Kono and … Continue Reading

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Prosecution and Defense to Appeal Charles Taylor Judgment and Sentence

Prosecution and Defense teams in the case of convicted former president of Liberia Charles Taylor will appeal various aspects of the judgment and sentence delivered by the Trial Chamber judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). This was made clear in separate filings made by the parties this week.

The Trial Chamber judges on April 26, 2012 convicted Taylor of aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes including rape, murder, and destruction of civilian property by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) forces in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The judges further found that Taylor helped to plan attacks on three towns, including the diamond rich town of Kono … Continue Reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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