Special Court Grants Taylor Trial Extension to Jan. 7

150 150 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… Former Liberia President Charles Taylor’s attorney wants to defend his client by using a collection of personal correspondences, and he objects to any use of testimony from Sierra Leone war victims.

Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor’s chief counsel, was offically granted a postponement from August 20, until January 7, 2008. Griffiths told judges from the Special Court for Sierra Leone that “a myopic insistence on expeditiousness” would render his client’s right to a fair trial “an empty formality.”

Griffiths told the tribunal he wants to assess the contents of Taylor’s personal archive of tens of thousands of documents, including a letter from former  President Jimmy Carter. 

The defense team will also object to the prosecution’s use of calling victims from Sierra Leone’s civil war to testify in court. “At first sight, we are unable to see the relevance of the crime-based witnesses…unless of course the prosecution wants the emotional impact of transporting limbless individuals from West Africa,” Griffiths told judges.

The prosecution, however, argued that the victims were essential to their case. “The crime-base evidence of course is relevant because we are required to prove the crime base beyond reasonable doubt,” argued prosecution attorney Brenda Hollis.

Taylor faces 11 counts of war crimes including having armed and supported  rebels responsible for the murders of thousands of civilians and hacking off the limbs of victims. Prosecutors allege that Taylor gave arms, drugs and alcohol to the rebels, many of them children, in order to desensitize them before sending them in to conflict zones. Prosecutors also allege that the war was financed by diamonds cultivated by slave-labor and that Taylor provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda members sought in connection with the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania U.S. embassy bombings.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.