24 January 2013

Liberia: Taylor Optimistic of Winning Appeal

Photo: RNW
Charles Taylor in court.

As his appeal hearings concluded Wednesday in The Hague, Netherlands former Liberian President Charles Taylor has expressed optimism of winning.

Mr. Taylor's defense team has filed 42 grounds of appeal, excepting to the prosecution's April 26, 2012 verdict, which convicted and sentenced the ex-President to 50 years, for aiding and abetting RUF rebels in Sierra Leone during its 10-year arm rebellion which began in 1992.

"I have all beliefs that the right thing will be done through the grace of Almighty God", Taylor said in court Wednesday.

Report from The Hague Wednesday said Taylor's defense argued that the Trial Chamber made systematic errors in the evaluation of evidence and in the application of law sufficiently serious to "reverse all findings of guilt entered against him" and to vacate the judgment.

The Defense brief also questioned the fairness of the trial and the judicial process itself, and challenged the 50 year sentence imposed by the Chamber as being "manifestly unreasonable."

But the Prosecution has also appealed the judgment on four grounds, arguing that Taylor should have been found guilty of other modes of liability, and that he should have received a significantly longer sentence.

The Prosecution is seeking for Taylor's sentence to be increased to 80 years, but defense lawyer Morris Anyah argued that his client turns 65 on Monday, January 28, 2013 so increasing his sentence to that number of years would automatically mean life sentence. Anyah told the BBC that the defense will demand specifics on the evidences brought against his client.

For the oral arguments, the Appeals Chamber asked both the Prosecution and the Defense to address six questions (set forth in full below), looking at the application of international law to modes of liability, the extent to whether uncorroborated hearsay evidence may be relied upon in determining findings of fact, and how existing jurisprudence relating to adjudicated facts should be applied to a Defense motion to admit adjudicated facts after the Prosecution had closed their case.

This week's hearing is the last in the Taylor case before the appeal judgment is delivered. It also marks the achievement of an important milestone as the Court nears the completion of its mandate. The Judges will now retire to deliberate and consider their judgment, expected before the end of 2013.

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