22 January 2013

Liberia: Taylor Suffers Set Back

Photo: RNW
Charles Taylor in court.

Judges at the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone have dismissed a motion filed by ex-President Charles Taylor which seeks the admission of nine additional evidence during his appeal hearing that starts with an oral argument today.

Mr. Taylor had also sought to have dissenting alternative Judge, Justice Sow testify on his behalf. Lawyers representing Mr. Taylor filed the motion seeking to present the additional evidence pursuant to Rule 115 and paragraph 23 of the Court's practice and Direction for Grounds of Appeals.

Rule 115 (A) provides among others that a party may apply by motion to the Pre-hearing Judge to present before the Appeal Chamber additional evidence which was not available to it at the trial.

Article 23 of the Practice and Direction on the structure of Grounds of Appeal before the Special Court provides that a party applying to present additional evidence must do so by way of motion, in accordance with the Rules-starting with among others, the specific rule by which the application is made.

The Special Court judges in their ruling dated Friday January 18, 2013, said Mr. Taylor's motion fails to identify the specific finding of fact made by the Trial Chamber to which the additional evidence is directed. The judges further stated that Mr. Taylor's motion and evidence proposed do not relate to a fact litigated at trial or a factual finding made by the Trial Chamber.

"The motion fails to establish that the evidence and fair trial issues could not have been raised before the Trial Chamber," the judges said.

The judges also stated that the request by Mr. Taylor to have Justice Sow testify on his behalf fails to either indicate witness (Justice Sow) willingness to testify or to support the request with a statement of the proposed evidence to be elicited from the witness.

Lawyers representing Mr. Taylor on November 30, 2012 filed the motion to present additional evidence pursuant to Rule 115 of the Special Court. They argued in their motion that the evidence to be presented meets the requirement of Rule 115 and Paragraph 23 of the court's Appeal Practice and Direction for Grounds of Appeal.

The Defense had argued that the specific findings of fact to which the proffered evidence is directed are among others: All findings of fact underpinning paragraph 6994(a) and (b) of the judgment, 2 to the extent it might be concluded from the judgment that Mr. Taylor received a fair trial with due process of law.

But the Prosecution countered argued that the motion fails to meet requirement of Rule 115 and Paragraph 23 of the Practice and Direction for the Ground of Appeal. The prosecution therefore concluded that all the nine pieces of evidence should be rejected.

However, the defense had earlier argued that all the proposed additional evidence was unavailable at the trial. But the prosecution maintained that for certain of the proposed evidence, the defense should have raised that at the time it became aware of it, rather it fails to demonstrate due diligence by making appropriate use of all evidence mechanisms available to it.

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