Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Charles Taylor And His Defense Team Not in Court For Closing Argument

By Alpha Sesay 
Charles Taylor
Source: The Trial of Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor And His Defense Team Not in Court For Closing Argumentby Alpha Sesay For a second day, Charles Taylor’s defense team refused to appear in court to take part in the closing arguments of the former Liberian president’s trial in The Hague.

The Court was scheduled to hear closing arguments from both prosecution and defense lawyers this week. When proceedings commenced yesterday to hear the closing arguments from the prosecution, defense lawyers refused to take part in the process because the judges had refused to accept the defense final closing brief. The judges had originally ordered that all closing briefs be filed by the parties on January 14 , 2011. While prosecutors filed their brief by the necessary date, defense lawyers refused to file because they wanted outstanding motions to be dealt with first before they could finalize their final brief. When all outstanding motions were dealt with and defense lawyers finally filed their final brief, the judges rejected it on the ground that it had been filed out of time.

Defense lawyers have therefore taken a position that until their final brief is accepted, they would not take part in the proceedings.

When court resumed this morning, a date that had been scheduled for the defense closing argument, Mr. Taylor and his entire defense team were absent.

The Principal Defender of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Claire Carlton-Hancilles, who had been ordered by the judges to serve as duty counsel and represent the interest of the accused, was the only one present in the defense section of the court.

When asked this morning to explain why Mr. Taylor was absent in court, the Principal Defender said, “I have no information on why the accused is not in court this morning.”

The Presiding Judge of the Chamber, Justice Teresa Doherty, informed the parties that “Mr. Taylor has opted not to come to court and pursuant to Rule 60 [of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the court]. I will rule that the matter will proceed.”

Before the court adjourned for the day, a note was handed over to the judges that read: “Mr. Taylor has waived his right to be present for the closing hearings.” No indication was given as to where the note came from.

One of the judges of the Chamber, Justice Julia Sebutinde, had two questions for the prosecution based on the content of their final brief submitted yesterday. Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis provided answers to the questions.

The judges decided to adjourn the proceedings until Friday, February 11. Both prosecution and defense teams were scheduled to present rebuttal arguments to each other’s closing arguments on Friday. The prosecution is scheduled to present their rebuttal at 9:00a.m., while the defense is scheduled to present at 11:30a.m. on Friday. However, because there are no closing arguments for prosecutors to make rebuttals to, as a matter of procedure, the court will resume at 11:30a.m. on Friday to give defense lawyers an opportunity to make any rebuttal arguments they might have.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths addressed the press, during which he said that his team will not be in court on Friday. He made clear that the defense team had not withdrawn from the case entirely, but rather they were just withdrawing from this stage of the proceedings until the defense final trial brief is accepted.

By close of business Tuesday, defense lawyers filed a motion for leave to appeal the decision of the Trial Chamber to reject their final trial brief. If they are granted leave by the Trial Chamber, the defense will file an appeal to the Appeals Chamber of the court, which has the authority to review the decision of the Trial Chamber. If the defense team is not granted leave to file an appeal, Mr. Griffiths says the defense will continue to stay away from the proceedings, in which case, all parties will wait for the final judgment of the Trial Chamber. The final judgment will determine whether Mr. Taylor is guilty or not of the charges against him.

The trial resumes on Friday.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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