20 August 2013

Liberia: Taylor's Verdict Due Next Month

A verdict into the appeal filed by ex-President Charles Taylor against his 50-years prison term is due to be handed down by judges at the UN back Special Court for Sierra Leone next month (September 2013), this paper has learnt.

An aide to Taylor told this paper Monday that the actual date scheduled for the verdict next month will soon be confirmed. A source at the Special Court neither told this paper via telephone Monday that he could neither confirmed nor deny the information but it was left with judges to make the pronouncement.

Final arguments by prosecutors and lawyers representing Taylor was done in mid-January this year before judges in the Appeals Chamber after days of submissions by both parties. Mr. Taylor had told judges of the Appeal Chambers that he was pleased with the proceedings after both prosecution and defense presented their final arguments.

"I'm very appreciative of the handling of the proceedings so far, and I have the belief that the right thing will be done by the grace of Almighty God," he told the Judges.

Taylor was found guilty on all 11 counts of the indictment, which includes planning of crimes, and of aiding and abetting crimes, committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone, on April 26 April 2012 by the Trial Chamber. On 30 May 2012, the Trial Chamber sentenced him to a prison term of 50 years.

During their argument before the five Appeal Judges and one Alternate Judge, lawyers representing Taylor presented 42 grounds of appeal, arguing 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.

Mr. Taylor's lawyers 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."

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

A verdict into the Taylor's appeal will bring an end to a long standing trial full of drama and intrigue. It will also come at the time the court is nearing the completion of its mandate.

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