Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finally, Special Court for Sierra Leone will issue Charles Taylor Judgment on Thursday, April 26, 2012

According to a Press Release issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Trial Chamber II has issued a scheduling order for judgment in the case Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor. It is posted below:
The Hague, Netherlands, 1 March 2012

Trial Chamber to Deliver Taylor Judgment on 26 April 2012

Judgment in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor will take place on 26 April 2012, in accordance with a Scheduling Order issuedtoday by Trial Chamber II.

The Judgment will be delivered at 11:00 a.m. in a courtroom belonging tothe Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, where the Taylor trial hasbeen taking place.

Charles Taylor was charged in an 11-count indictment alleging responsibilityfor war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations ofinternational humanitarian law committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leoneduring the country’s decade-long civil war. He has pleaded not guiltyto all charges.

The Taylor trial opened on 4 June 2007 in The Hague. It was adjourned immediatelyafter the Prosecution’s opening statement when Mr. Taylor dismissed hisDefence team and requested new representation. Witness testimony commencedon 7 January 2008, and ended on 12 November 2010. Closing arguments tookplace in February and March 2011.

The Court heard live testimony from 94 Prosecution witnesses, and receivedwritten statements from four additional witnesses. The Defence presented21 witnesses, with Mr. Taylor testifying in his defence.

At a meeting this week with members of Sierra Leonean civil society, SpecialCourt Registrar Binta Mansaray said that although delivery of the judgmenthad taken nearly a year, this was due largely to the complexity of thecase. She noted that, amongst other matters, the Judges had to read throughmore than 50,000 pages of witness testimony, and to examine the1,520 exhibitswhich had been tendered in evidence. She said the time-frame was consistentwith similar high-profile cases at other international tribunals.

Ms. Mansaray said that with this judgment the Special Court is set to reachanother critical milestone, given that this is the last trial stemmingfrom Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, and that it will be the lastmajor trial to be held at the Court.

At the Special Court, as in other international tribunals, both the Prosecutionand the Defence have the right to appeal. If Mr. Taylor is acquitted onall charges, the appeals process will begin immediately. If he is foundguilty on any of the 11 counts, the Trial Chamber will schedule sentencing proceedings.


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