Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Liberia: Taylor Counts Days to Final Judgment

The New Republic Liberia (Monrovia)


Liberia: Taylor Counts Days to Final Judgment

18 September 2013

War crimes and crimes against humanity convict, former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor, is, about this time counting the days he has before him to still in his current abode or be sent to Great Britain where a cell is prepared for him.
About three weeks ago, the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone announced that the appeal judgment in his case would be announced on September 26, 2013, which is next Thursday.
The announcement of the Appeal Judgment from The Hague at 11:00 am will mark the conclusion of the trial, which began in June 2007.
94 witnesses testified for the prosecution while 21 testified for the defense, including Charles Taylor himself, over its duration.
It may be recalled that Mr. Taylor who resigned the presidency on August 11, 2003 and arrested in January of 2006 based on the request of the Liberian government was convicted on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law in connection to his role the Sierra Leonean civil war.
The judges also convicted the former Liberian president of planning, with former RUF leader Sam Bockarie, attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, which took place in late 1998 and early 1999. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison in May 2012.
But on July 19, 2012, both the prosecution and defense teams filed notices of appeal against the findings of the Trial Chamber on Mr. Taylor's conviction and his sentence.
The prosecution appealed the Trial Chamber conviction on four grounds, including the Chamber's failure to find Mr. Taylor liable for ordering and instigating the commission of crimes, the failure to find him liable for crimes committed in certain location in five districts on the ground that they fell outside the scope of the indictment, as well as the decision to sentence him to a single term of 50 years.
The prosecution originally asked that Mr. Taylor serve an 80 year jail term.
The defense has raised 42 grounds of appeal. The defense disagrees with the findings of the Trial Chamber that Taylor was involved in planning attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown in 1998 and 1999 and that he assisted the commission of crimes by providing medical assistance to rebel forces in Sierra Leone.
The defense also argued that the 50 year jail sentence is "manifestly unreasonable," and that the judges "erred" in their failure to consider Taylor's expression of sympathy as grounds of mitigation.
Concerns were also raised over irregularities in the proceedings based on the statement made by the Alternate Judge El-Hadj Malick Sow that there had been no deliberations among the judges and that Justice Julia Sebutinde's participation in the proceedings after she had already become a judge of the International Court of Justice was improper.


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