Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Charles Taylor Wrongly Convicted--Part II

Taylor was wrongly convicted

Part 2
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:00
Trust Sengwayo

This is a continuation of yesterday’s article on former Liberian president Charles Taylor’s conviction at the ICC.

In the last episode I dealt with the following:

The motivation for the imperialist US and UK Governments to hound the duly elected President of Liberia, DahKpannah Dr. Charles Taylor (“Taylor”), out of office and into exile, to arm twist the Nigerian Government which had given him asylum to arrest him and hand him over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“the court”), and to ensure, by use of senior US CIA operatives, that Taylor was convicted and handed a lengthy custodial sentence
Flooding of the prosecution with senior US CIA operatives. In this regard, I had already dealt with Lieutenant Colonel David M. Crane. In this episode I shall deal with the remainder of this group of US CIA operatives who Taylor himself referred to as the “attack pack”. Lastly, I shall deal with the unfair composition of the judges which made their partiality and independence an unattainable goal.

Flooding the Prosecution with US Operatives

The second senior member of the attack pack is Brenda J. Hollis. She was the Court’s Prosecutor in the Taylor trial. Hollis was a former US Defence Intelligence operative for 20 years, a member of the dreaded CIA who had been based in the US Air Force. Then there was Dr Allan White, the Court’s first Chief of Investigations.

He also was a US Defence Intelligence officer who had worked for that department for 20 years. Then there was James J. Johnson a former U.S. Army member for 20 years. He was an expert in conventional and special operations.

The Taylor trial was therefore not the usual judicial engagement. It was a covert US military operation that was conducted under the guise of a criminal trial in a court room in much the same way computer fare will be waged in the near future. Indeed, Crane called the Taylor trial “legal fare”. It is pertinent to recall at this moment that the US had planned to whisk Taylor away to the US for trial if the Court had failed for some reason not to convict him as planned.

In my view, the Taylor trial was in effect a US trial and not a trial under an international criminal tribunal for the following reasons:

1. The US forced Taylor to leave his position as Liberian President; 2. The US forced Taylor to leave Liberia; 3. The indictment of Taylor by the Crane was effectively an indictment by the US as Crane reported to the US as shown by his unsealing of Taylor’s indictment to US officials two months before it was officially unsealed; 4. The US funded the Court at US12 million per year; 5. The US gave the prosecution team millions of US dollars to pay witnesses to testify against Taylor; 6. The US threatened to bring Nigeria to its knees if it did not hand over Taylor to the Court. 7. The Prosecutor in the Taylor trial, Brenda J. Hollis is a US national as is the former Prosecutor, Crane, who indicted Taylor.

Legal Implications

The Court’s Prosecutor was not independent and impartial. He represented the US objective to have Taylor convicted and sent to a lengthy term of imprisonment. The notion that prosecutors must be impartial and independent is ensconced in principles of natural justice as well as international criminal law jurisprudence. In this regard United Nations Security Council Resolution 1315 (2000), which called for the creation of the Court, emphasised: “The importance of ensuring the impartiality, independence and credibility of the process, in particular with regard to the status of judges and prosecutors.”

Article 15(1) of the Statute of the Court states:
“The prosecutor shall act independently as a separate organ of the Court. He or she shall not seek or receive instructions from any Government or any other source.”

Commenting on Article 15(1) of the statute of the Court Trial Chamber 1 of the Court opined:
“Article 15 (1) reinforces in unambiguous terms, an internationally accepted norm governing the exercise of prosecutorial authority, in International Criminal Tribunals, namely autonomy and independence.”

Clearly, the prosecution in the Taylor trial was partial and biased by virtue of its being controlled, funded, and operated by the US which expressed an irrepressible desire to have Taylor convicted and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment at all costs.

US Operatives Bribing Witnesses

The self-professed leading democracy in the world, the U.S., engaged in massive and unprecedented purchasing of false evidence to ensure that Taylor was convicted.

This corrupt, unlawful, illegal and perverse operation was carried out through the attack pack.

The provision of assistance to witnesses at the Court was as follows: The Court’s Witnesses and Victims Section (“WVS”) provided assistance to both prosecution and defence witnesses.

To be Continued

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

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