Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Charles Taylor's Lead Counsel Walks Out in Protest of Trial Chamber's Decision to Reject Defence Final Brief

I wanted to follow up on my blog note from late yesterday evening. Just this morning in The Hague, Courtenay Griffiths, Q.C., the British Barrister representing former Liberian President Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, walked out of court as a form of protest of the Trial Chamber's refusal to receive the Final Defence Brief. Mr. Taylor, who was initially present, also did not return. Defence counsel explained that their mere presence in court gave an undeserved air of legitimacy to the closing arguments. See the BBC Story here and MSNBC here.

Mr. Griffiths explained afterwards (see video clip at the above BBC link) that he would not participate in what would amount to a "farce" of closing arguments, until the Appeals Chamber decides on the team's appeal of the Trial Chamber's majority decision. Surely, while always a difficult decision for lawyers who owe ethical and professional obligations to both their clients as well as the court, no responsible defence lawyer will participate in the remainder of the closing under such circumstances!

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