Thursday, January 24, 2013

Charles Taylor Was Wrongly Convicted--Part III

Taylor was wrongly convicted Part 3

Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:00
Trust Sengwayo
Zimbabwe Herald

This is third part of the articles on former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s convition at the ICC.

This enabled the prosecution to disburse as much money as it wished to the prosecution witnesses.

In this way certain prosecution witnesses were paid additional sums of money by the prosecution’s WMU that were egregiously excessive and unjustifiable in return for their evidence.

This money had no accountability and did not appear in the books of the Court. Examples of witnesses who received egregious payments from the Prosecutor are the following:

Witness TFI-334

He was imprisoned in 2004. However, he continued to receive payments from the prosecution for “transport” to interviews when in fact he no longer travelled for interviews. He was later transported to the Hague in 2006, two years before he was required to testify. He was fully sponsored for, among other things, accommodation, food, transport, and medicare. What was the purpose of inviting a man to the luxury of the Hague and entertain him for two years before he is required to testify? In 2006, this witness received payments on 47 occasions for transportation, meals, communication and lost wages.

However, no corresponding interviews or records exist of meetings between him and the prosecutor during that period. Clearly, these payments were rewards or encouragement for continued favourable cooperation with the prosecution. Further, interviewing a witness for as many as 47 times is unduly excessive and can be only for some ulterior motive such as coaching a witness.

Shockingly, in addition to all payments referred to above, this witness was given a further US$30 000.00 by the prosecution’s WMU.

Witness TFI-276

He was paid a whopping US$2 502,00 from the prosecution’s W MU for attending to an interview for three days. This money is over and above that which he was given by the WVU.

Witness TFI-532

He was paid money by the WVU whenever he visited the prosecution. However, over and above those payments the prosecution’s WMU paid him the sum of US$100 per session without any justification. This means that he made a cool US$100 net every time he visited the prosecutor’s office, an amount higher than that paid to consult a specialist physician.

This money was provided for by the US Government and was administered by the Prosecutor who was a US national. The Prosecutor therefore purchased evidence from whoever cared to receive dirty money in order to convict Taylor. In fact, evidence was led during the trial that one witness boasted that she had bought a house with the money that she was given by the prosecution, although this could not be proved.

Unfair Composition of Judges

Justice Teresa Doherty is a citizen of the UK which, together with the US, had hounded Taylor. Further, she was a judge of the Court of Appeal in Sierra Leone and therefore owed her allegiance to that country. She was therefore an interested party. It is difficult to understand how the Secretary General could have appointed her as one of the judges of the Court trying Taylor. Justice Richard Lussick hails from Samoa but was schooled in Australia, a UK affiliate.

He is a past Vice President of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association, a UK institution. Crucially, he was appointed by Sierra Leone, the complainant in this matter. He was therefore, by all known standards, an interested party. Justice Julia Sebutinde, a Ugandan national, is black and African. However, she is a British trained lawyer and has strong links with the UK.

From 1991-1996 she worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, as a legislative consultant. The Commonwealth Secretariat is a UK institution. Further, she was not an expert in international humanitarian law or criminal law. In the unlikely event that she was not tainted by her connection to the UK she could not have mustered the courage to challenge the findings of the other two judges who were more familiar with international humanitarian law and criminal law. In any event she would still be outvoted if she found in favour of Taylor.

The composition of the judges was clearly staged managed as was the composition of the prosecution. The common denominator among all the three judges is their affiliation to the UK. The common denominator between two of the judges is that they were affiliated to Sierra Leone, the complainant. Given this scenario it is difficult to see how Taylor could have been acquitted as he was tried by people who had an interest in the matter.

As Nelson Mandela said in his trial on 28 October 1962: “What sort of justice is this that enables the aggrieved to sit in judgment over those against whom they have laid a charge?”
Jusice El Hadji Malick Sow was the alternate judge and hailed from Senegal. He had no visible material connection with either the US, the UK, or Sierra Leone. He sat with the three judges throughout the five years of Taylor’s trial except after Taylor was convicted. He gave a Dissenting Opinion where he argued that Taylor was not guilty. In that opinion he states that the other judges conducted themselves contrary to the dictates of judicial office.

He states:
“I disagree with the findings and conclusions of the other judges, because for me under any mode of liability, under any accepted standard of proof, the guilt of the accused from the evidence provided in this trial is not proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. And my only worry is that the whole system is not consistent with all the principles we know and love, and the system is not consistent with all the values of international criminal justice, and I ‘m afraid the whole system is under grave danger of just losing all credibility, and I’m afraid this whole thing is headed for failure.”

As soon as Justice Sow started delivering the above Dissenting Opinion, the three other judges ran away from the Court room by rising up and walking off. Justice Sow’s microphone was cut off, the curtains of the public gallery were drawn so that the public would not hear him, and his statement was later removed from the public record.

The conduct of the judges in the Taylor judgment induces a sense of shock.

In the last and final episode of the extraneous factors surrounding the Taylor judgment I shall deal with the conduct of these judges and provide further insights given by justice Sow.

The writer is First Executive Director at the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

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