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Charles Taylor on trial. He wants the air cleared about the independence and impartiality of the Special Court

be allowed to run the trial as he pleased, and that by failing to meet the 14 January deadline, he had effectively forfeited his chance to file his “final trial brief”, a criti- cal document that encapsulates a party’s strongest argument, based on the facts and evidence before the Court. Te final trial brief is intended to assist the judges in writing their judgements. When both the Trial and Appeals

Chambers finally handed down their de- cisions on the outstanding motions on 3 February (some of which went in Taylor’s favour), Taylor filed his “final trial brief”, but again, by a majority decision of 2-1 (with Justice Sebutinde again dissenting), the Court refused to accept the brief as filed even though Rule 86(B) of the Statute establishing the Court allowed the filing of the brief “not later than five days prior to the date set for the presentation of that party’s final argument.” Te refusal really annoyed Taylor’s lead

defence counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, so much so that he walked out of the Court in protest, despite being told to sit down by the presiding judge, Justice Teresa Doherty (from Northern Ireland). He was later fol- lowed out by his client, Taylor. On 9 February, the Court ruled (again

by majority decision, with Justice Seb- utinde again dissenting), that Griffiths should attend court on 11 February to apologise for his behaviour on 8 Febru- ary or the Court would impose sanctions against him. When the Court sat on 11 February

standing ones had not been decided upon by the Trial and Appeal Chambers of the Court, by 14 January, Taylor refused to file his “final trial brief” to wrap up his defence, as ordered by the Court on 22 October last year. But by a majority decision of 2-1 (one

of the three judges on the case, the Ugan- dan Justice Julia Sebutinde, dissented), the Court ruled that Taylor would not

to hear the apology, the Defence offered none but managed to get an adjournment for two weeks (until 25 February) to get an experienced lawyer to defend Griffiths on the disciplinary case. On top of that, the Defence got a fa-

vourable majority decision (this time with Justice Richard Lussick of Samoa dissent- ing) for leave to appeal against the Trial Chamber’s decision to refuse Taylor’s final trial brief. Te Court therefore adjourned the substantive Taylor case until the Appeals Chamber decides on the Defence’s appeal to be allowed to file the “final trial brief ”.

WikiLeaks cables Te first of the two classified cables at the heart of the new drama in court, was written by Linda Tomas-Greenfield, the American ambassador in Monrovia, on 10 March 2009. She was unremitting in her comments. She began: “Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp’s ill-considered announce- ment in the press February 24 [2009] that Charles Taylor may walk free because of a supposed budget shortfall for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where Taylor is presently on trial, made headlines in the local press, and raised anxiety here about Taylor’s imminent return. “The GOL [Government of Libe-

ria] was alarmed enough that President Johnson-Sirleaf called Ambassador on February 28 [2009] to raise her concerns. Johnson-Sirleaf pointed out that Liberia’s stability remains fragile, and such remarks reverberated throughout the country, as people are still traumatised by Taylor and the war.” Thomas-Greenfield, an African-

American, continued: “Te threat of a return of Taylor strengthens [the hand of pro-Taylor forces] and for now they see no need to give in at all. However, if Taylor is put away for a long time, the government may feel a bit bolder in recovering assets and bringing Taylor backers who commit- ted war crimes to justice. “Te international community has just

a few tools to pressure the Taylor people into accepting the new reality. Te UN sanctions appear to have the intended ef- fect of keeping them somewhat marginal- ised and fearful of further attempts to strip them of their ill-gotten gains. However, we have regularly heard of travel outside Liberia of those on the travel ban list, without prior approval.” Te ambassador went on: “However,

the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time and we cannot delay for the results of the present trial to consider [the] next steps. All legal op- tions should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilise Liberia [ital- ics added]. Building a case in the United States against Taylor for financial crimes such as wire fraud would probably be the best route,” Tomas-Greenfield continued. “Tere may be other options, such as ap- plying the new law criminalising the use of child soldiers or terrorism statutes. “Te peace in Liberia remains fragile,

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