Special Court for Sierra Leone: Chronology
Last Updated 26 September 2013
26 September 2013: Appeals Chamber upholds Trial Chamber's convictions of Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Specifically, the Appeals Chamber upholds convictions on all 11 counts of the indictment including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, and enlisting children into armed forces. The Appeals Chamber also affirms the 50 year sentence for Mr. Taylor.
4 June 2013: SCSL elects new President of the Special Court, Justice George Gelaga King, succeeding Justice Shireen Avis Fisher. Justice King will serve at this post until the court completes its mandate.
21 March 2013: The Appeals Chamber dismisses the appeal of Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu from their September 2012 sentencing for interference with Prosecution witnesses. The counts included: 1) knowingly disclosing the identity of a witness; 2) offering a bribe to a witness; and 3) otherwise interfering with a witness. The Appeals Chamber dismisses the appeal for being incompetent because it failed to stipulate the grounds on which the appeal was made.
21 March 2013: Appeals Chamber judges continue deliberations in the Taylor case. As previously mentioned, the majority of Mr. Taylor’s grounds for appeal are based on the mens rea required for aiding and abetting and the acceptance of hearsay as evidence against the defendant.
8 February 2013: A former Defense investigator with the ICTR is convicted of tampering with witnesses in the trial of Charles Taylor. The investigator, Prince Taylor, tried to induce Prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony. The Trial Chamber sentenced Prince Taylor to two and a half years in jail.
23 January 2013: Both the Prosecution and the Defense made their closing arguments before the Appeals Chamber in the case of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. The Defense argues that the Trial Chamber made fundamental errors during Taylor’s trial and thus all charges against him should be vacated. The Prosecution argues that Taylor should be convicted on additional grounds and sentenced to a longer time in prison.
9 October 2012: SCSL President Justice Shireen Avis Fisher and SCSL Prosecutor Brenda J. Hollis address the UN Security Council, praising the Court’s efforts and the results of the Charles Taylor trial. They also cited polls done with Sierra Leonans and Liberians showing a majority favor the work of the SCSL.
6 October 2012: Prince Taylor is arrested for nine counts of contempt of the Special Court. He was a former investigator for the Charles Taylor defense team. The Order in Lieu of an Indictment alleges that he interfered with four prosecution witnesses and a fifth person involved in contempt proceedings.
25 September 2012: Three senior members of Sierra Leone’s former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, two of whom are already serving sentences on convictions by the Special Court, are found guilty of contempt for tampering with a former prosecution witness.
6 September 2012: Both sides present their closing arguments in the contempt trial of three former AFRC leaders accused of tampering with a Prosecution witness. Convicted AFRC leaders Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu (aka “Five-Five”), and former AFRC member Alhassan Papa Bangura (aka “Bomblast”) are accused of offering a bribe to a witness to recant testimony he gave before the Special Court, and of otherwise attempting to induce a witness to recant his testimony. Kamara is also accused of knowingly revealing the name of a protected witness.
22 August 2012: The Appeals Chamber sets a deadline of 1 October 2012 for the submission of ex-President Charles Taylor’s appeal.
21 August 2012: The Special Court announces that Judge Sow, who served as an alternate judge during the trial of Charles Taylor, is expected to testify during Taylor’s appeal.
13 August 2012: Lawyers representing ex-president Charles Taylor file a motion requesting the voluntary withdrawal or disqualification of certain Appeals Chamber judges from Taylor’s appeal.
20 July 2012: Both the Prosecution and the Defense submit filings to the Appeals Chamber in the case against convicted former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor.
5 July 2012: Special Court for Sierra Leone sentences former Revolutionary United Front member Eric Koi Senessie today to two years’ imprisonment for his conviction last month on eight counts of contempt of the Special Court. Senessie was convicted on four counts of offering a bribe to a witness and four counts of attempting to influence a witness.
22 June 2012: Special Court convicts former RUF member Eric Koi Senessie on eight of nine contempt of court charges after finding that he had attempted to induce five prosecution witnesses who testified in the Taylor trial to recant their testimony.
19 June 2012: Contempt hearing begins for four AFRC members, including AFRC leaders Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu (aka “Five-Five”), as well as Hassan Papa Bangura (aka “Bomblast) and Samuel Kargbo (aka “Sammy Ragga”). The accused are charged with witness tampering.
4 June 2012: Justice Shireen Avis Fisher of the United States is elected to one year term as President of the Special Court.
30 May 2012: The Trial Chamber sentences former Liberian President Charles Taylor to a jail-term of fifty years after conviction of aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes in Sierra Leone. The court also convicts Charles Taylor of planning attacks on various towns including the diamond rich town of Kono in late 1998 and the country’s capital Freetown in January 1999.
18 May 2012: Dissenting Justice Malick Sow, an alternative judge of the Trial Chamber hearing the case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor, is suspended for speaking publicly following the oral delivery of the Taylor judgment, when Justice Lussick (Presiding), Justice Doherty and Justice Sebutinde were rising to leave the courtroom.
26 April 2012: Special Court for Sierra Leone convicts former Liberian President Charles Taylor of aiding and abetting and planning eleven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
26 March 2012: William Hague, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, announces that the British government will provide an additional £ 660,000 to the SCSL, bringing the total British contribution since 2002 to £ 27.6 million. In a statement to Parliament, Mr. Hague stressed that “the effective prosecution of those who commit [these most serious crimes] is fundamental to preventing such crimes, which in turn is vital in the development of communities which are more stable and prosperous.”
9 March 2012: The Presiding Judges unanimously deny Mr. Taylor’s request to move the date of his judgment from 26 April 2012 to 30 April 2012. The judges contend that the 1 March decision setting the judgment date gave the Defense eight weeks to clear up any scheduling conflicts, so Courtenay Griffiths, lead defense counsel, should be able to appear. The judges further contend that Mr. Taylor will receive adequate legal counsel even if Mr. Griffiths cannot appear, and agree with the Prosecution that security concerns regarding the judgment date are speculative.
7 March 2012: The Prosecution files a response to the Defense’s request to move the judgment date, alleging that announcing the judgment on 26 April 2012 will not deprive Mr. Taylor of his right to a fair trial. Prosecutors also contend that Mr. Taylor will receive adequate legal advice even if Mr. Griffiths is not in the courtroom during the verdict announcement, and dismiss the potential security risk posed by the Defense as “purely speculative.” The Prosecution further requests that if the date of judgment is changed, it should be moved only to the afternoon of 27 April 2012.
6 March 2012: Lawyers for Mr. Taylor file a motion to move the date of delivery of his verdict from 26 April 2012 to 30 April 2012. Defense lawyers argue that Courtenay Griffiths, the lead counsel, has another professional commitment that day, which has been scheduled since September 2011. Mr. Taylor feels that Mr. Griffith’s presence in the courtroom when he receives his verdict is essential to his ability to move forward with any necessary appeals. Mr. Taylor’s lawyers also argue that because Sierra Leone celebrates its 51st birthday on 27 April, announcing such an important and emotional verdict on the day before would likely cause riots or other unrest.
1 March 2012: Trial Chamber II announces that Presiding Judge Richard Lussick will deliver the verdict in Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at 11:00 am on 26 April 2012. After the verdict, either the Defense or the Prosecution is likely to appeal the judgment, which will then be decided by a panel of five judges. This panel will also determine Mr. Taylor’s sentence if he is convicted. If convicted, Mr. Taylor will serve his sentence in a British prison.
27 February 2012: Kenyan Justice Philip Nyamu Waki is sworn in as an alternate judge for the Appeals Chamber. Justice Waki was appointed to the Chamber by both the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. Officials from both organizations attended the swearing-in ceremony in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
10 February 2012: The presiding judges officially reject Mr. Taylor’s request to re-open his case after the Prosecution rebutted the idea that the Panel of Experts’ Report on Liberia showed that Mr. Taylor did not have control of mercenaries. The Prosecution said that the Report had “no probative value or relevance to support the defense arguments,” and that it was too late in the proceedings to introduce the report.
9 February 2012: The presiding judges reject the defense attorneys’ request to re-open Mr. Taylor’s case.
31 January 2012: Defense attorneys for Charles Taylor file a motion to re-open his case “in order to seek admission of Panel of Experts Report on Liberia.” The attorneys request that this report be submitted into evidence because it is highly probative and was not available during the initial trial proceedings.
18 January 2012: Justice Richard Lussick, from the Republic of Samoa, succeeds Justice Teresa Doherty as the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II, which has been presiding over the trial of Charles Taylor. Justice Lussick will be the presiding judge of the Chamber for one year, and so will likely deliver the Trial Chamber’s judgment in the case.
21 December 2011: The presiding judges reject the defense attorneys’ request to re-open Mr. Taylor’s case.
9 December 2011: Defense attorneys for Charles Taylor request that the presiding judges re-open his case after the release of a WikiLeaks cable suggesting an agreement between former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and the United States government. The alleged agreement would have offered Mr. Taylor asylum and immunity from prosecution if he left Liberia willingly. The same WikiLeaks cable also suggests that Obasanjo had provided support to the Liberian rebels.
7 December 2011: The Panel of Experts on Liberia appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2007 releases its Final Report. Charles Taylor’s lawyers argue that this report proves that the Liberian government did not actively send mercenaries into Sierra Leone, as argued by the prosecution. The defense points particularly to evidence that prosecution witnesses Ibrahim Bah, Benjamin Yeaten, Zig Zag Marzah, and “Sweet Candy” are now acting as independent mercenaries and continuing to exploit conflicts in Western Africa for their own personal benefit.
15 November 2011: In an email message to a Rwandan newspaper, The New Times, SCSL Outreach and Public Affairs Chief Peter C. Andersen affirms that Rwandan prisoners are being treated in accordance with international standards. Andersen states that the court’s delegation concluded that the prisoners’ complaints stem from an unwillingness to adapt to prison life rather than any actual human rights abuses.
11 November 2011: The Deputy Attorney General, representatives of the Human Rights Commission, and Prison Watch begin a review of conditions for SCSL prisoners in Rwanda.
9 November 2011: Following a visit to the Rwandan prisoners convicted by the SCSL, the SCSL Deputy Registrar concludes that there is no merit to the prisoners’ human rights abuse claim made late last month and distributed to the media.
4 November 2011: The SCSL publishes its Eighth Annual Report of the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Pursuant to Article 25 of the Statute of the Special Court, the report summarizes the status of all ongoing cases, as well as the court’s ongoing outreach, fundraising efforts, and diplomatic relations work. The report is available online on the court’s website.
21 October 2011: Prisoners sentenced by the SCSL in 2009 submit a letter dated 7 September 2011 to the Director of the Lawyer Center for Legal Assistance alleging that they have not received treatment in accordance with international law and standards. The letter is signed by Issa Hassan Sesay, Augustine Ato Bao, Alex Tamba Brahima, and Allieu Musa Kondawai. The letter represents members of the Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council currently serving prison terms in Rwanda for their roles in the war.
17 July 2011: Justice Teresa Doherty presides over the start of contempt proceedings stemming from charges that former members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) sought to bribe witnesses in the case against the group’s leaders. Two former members of the AFRC, Hassan Papa Bangura and Samuel Kargbo, appeared in person in the Freetown courtroom, while convicted AFRC leaders Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu appeared via video link from prison in Rwanda. Kargbo pleaded guilty and offered to testify as a prosecution witness; the others pleaded not guilty.
27 May 2011: Judges at the SCSL institute two separate contempt proceedings in relation to allegations from the Prosecution regarding interference with witnesses appearing before the court. The first set of proceedings involves allegations that persons acting on behalf of Charles Taylor’s defense attempted to bribe several prosecution witnesses to recant evidence given to the Court. The second set of proceedings involves allegations against two of the persons convicted in the AFRC case – Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu – and two other individuals attempted to contact protected prosecution witnesses by phone and bribe them to recant their testimony.
14-15 May 2011: SCSL Prosecutor Brenda J. Hollis hosts the Sixth Colloquium of International Prosecutors in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The Colloquium permits Prosecutors from the world’s six international criminal tribunals to address common issues and discuss the development of international criminal law and practice.
11 March 2011: After three-and-a-half years of trial in the case against Charles Taylor, the Prosecution and Defense both address Trial Chamber II for the final time. The Prosecution submissions focus on Taylor’s efforts to appear publically as a peacemaker, while he privately used the RUF to commit crimes in Sierra Leone. They additionally emphasize the quality of documentary evidence, witness credibility, and alleged mischaracterizations of evidence. The Prosecution says the evidence overwhelmingly shows that the purpose of Taylor’s involvement in the war was to pillage diamonds. The Prosecutor alleges that the Defense has tried to transform the trial into a political and propaganda platform for Charles Taylor, noting the Defense references to the trial as a 21st century form of neo-colonialism. The Defense focuses nearly its entire submission on the central issue of the Prosecution’s theory of joint criminal enterprise. The defense argues that no evidence shows that an agreement was made between RUF leader Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor and further, that there was no alleged common purpose shared by Taylor, the RUF, and the AFRC for the entire period in question. Defense attorney Griffiths formally apologizes to the court and the judges accept it, bringing the question of potential disciplinary hearings to a close. The judges formally adjourned to begin deliberations. A judgment is expected before the end of the year. Any appeals would then follow, with the final conclusion to the Taylor trial expected in early 2012.
10 March 2011: Defense Counsel Munyard begins his submissions to the Court by claiming that the credibility of some witnesses was so poor that the court should completely disregard all of their evidence. The Defense claims that witness payments were questionable and influence the witnesses to feel a sense of obligation to the party paying him or her, tainting their testimony. The Defense claims that the Court should completely disregard the testimony of Mongor and other Prosecution witnesses mentioned in the Defense final trial brief.
9 March 2011: Defense begins its closing arguments, marking the beginning of the end of the trial of Charles Taylor. The Defense argues that Taylor was selectively prosecuted, citing the US government cables released by Wikileaks and evidence that former SCSL Prosecutor David Crane shared Taylor’s sealed indictment with US government officials two months before it became public. The Prosecution, however, contends that this practice is normal before international courts. Defense Counsel Griffiths focuses his submissions on the supposed strength of the documentary evidence exonerating Taylor from the charges he faces. Griffiths discusses the Magburaka arms shipment in detail, pointing out what the Defense considers gross inconsistencies in the evidence on the shipment. The Defense focuses on evidence they say proves that any joint criminal enterprise that might have been formed in Libya ended in June 1992. In response to the Defense’s final trial brief, the Prosecution argues that the Defense mischaracterized and excluded important aspects of the evidence and therefore drew incorrect conclusions about the evidence. In
7 March 2011: The defense closing argument is set for Wednesday, 9 March 2011 continuing into Thursday, 10 March 2011. The parties agree to file public versions of their respectivefinal briefsone month from today.
3 March 2011: The Appeals Chamber judgesat the Special Court for Sierra Leone issue a decision granting an appeal by Charles Taylor’s defense team. The Appeals Chamber judgesreversethe decision of the Trial Chamber to reject the defense’s final brief and order the Trial Chamber to schedule the closing argument for Mr. Taylor. Appeals Chamber judges discuss the decision in the light of Mr. Taylor’s fair trial rights as an accused, as well as drawing a line between the actions of his counsel and his own approval ofthose actions. The judges say the accused’s silence should not have been construed as giving his consent to what hislawyer did.
25 February 2011: The Trial Chamber adjourns the disciplinary hearing for Charles Taylor's leaddefensecounsel Courtenay Griffiths, which was scheduled to take place today, because the Trial Chamber could not be properly constituted. Griffiths issubjectto thedisciplinaryhearing after walking out of Court on Tuesday, 8 February 2011 when he had complained about the judgesrejectionof the Defense's twenty-day late final brief. However, when the Chamber convened for the disciplinary hearing, only the Presiding Judge Justice Teresa Doherty, Justice Richard Lussick, and the Alternate Judge Justice El-Hadj Malick Sow were present. Justice Julia Sebutinde declined to participate in the hearing, citing her earlier views and opinions dissenting in the directive. The alternate judge Justice Sow was invited to sit in Sebutinde's place, causing a disagreement among the judges as to whether the alternate should be included in the proceedings. Becausenoagreementcould be made regarding the composition of the court and because it wasdeterminedthat the Trial Chamber is not properlyconstitutedif not composed of three judges, the hearing is adjourned for a future date.
11 February 2011:Defense counsel Terry Munyard asks for two weeks to prepare for a special hearing regarding the directive from the judges to Mr. Munyard's co-counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, to appear and make an apology for walking out of court on 8 February 2011. In particular, Mr. Munyard asks for time to search for an experienced counsel that does not work for the Special Court to represent Mr. Griffiths at the special hearing. The hearing is tentatively set for 25 February 2011, and will be completely separate and not in any way interfere with the normal running of proceedings in Mr. Taylor's trial.
11 February 2011:The Trial Chamber judges grant leave to the defense to file an appeal against the Trial Chamber's original decision to reject the defense’s final brief. The appeal will be lodged before a panel of five judges of the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
10 February 2011:Prosecutors in the trial of Charles Taylor ask the judges to institute an “investigation into contempt,” alleging that Eric Koi Senessie, a former member of the Revolutionary United Front, and Prince Taylor, an investigator for the Taylor defense team, attempted to bribe at least three prosecution witnesses to recant their evidence.
10 February 2011: The judges of the Trial Chamber issue an order for Charles Taylor's Defense lawyer to appear in court on Friday, 11 February. The order is issued by a majority of the judges and warns the defense Lead Counsel that unless he apologizes for his behavior, the Trial Chamber may impose sanctions under Rule 46 of the Rules and Procedure and Evidence.9 February 2011: For the second day in a row,Charles Taylor’s defense teamrefusesto appear in court to participate in the closing arguments of the trial in the Hague. During this week, the Court is scheduled to hear the closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense, however, the defense refuses to take part in the processbecause the Trial Chamber judges will not accept the defense’s closing brief which had been submitted twenty days late. The defense is stating that it will not take part in the proceedingsuntilthe brief is accepted. The judges have decided to adjourn the proceedings until 11 February, when both sides are scheduled to present rebuttal arguments to the other's closing arguments.
8 February 2011: Charles Taylors defense counsel, Mr. Griffiths, declares that because the court had refused to accept the Defense’s final trial brief, his “very presence in court is incompatible with representing Mr. Taylor’s interest.” Mr. Griffiths storms out of the court and says both Mr. Taylor andhimself will withdraw from the proceedings at this point. Mr. Taylor at first remains in court, but when the proceedings resumed after a break, he does not return. The court declares that the Defense does not run the proceedings and orders the Prosecution to continue. The Prosecution gives its closing arguments stating that Mr. Taylor is ultimately and criminally responsible on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity; it rejects his claims that he is a victim of an international conspiracy.
7 February 2011: One day ahead of the beginning of closing arguments, the judges by a majority ruling (Justice Sebutinde dissenting) issue a decision to reject the final trial brief of the Defense, because it failed to file its final briefs by 14 January, as ordered by the court.
27 January 2011: The Special Court grants Charles Taylor’s application for permission to reopen his case to admit the documents obtained by Wikileaks in order to challenge the impartiality of the court.
20 January 2011: The Status Conference commences and Mr. Taylor’s defense team says it will not file a final brief until outstanding motions related to Wikileaks are addressed before the court. In response, the Majority of the court states that the outstanding motions may call for further orders, but it is a decision to be made by the Trial Chamber, not Mr. Taylor.
18 January 2011: The Counsel for Mr. Taylor requests a Status Conference to review the status of the trial and explain its failure to submit a final trial brief. The Defense states several outstanding matters related to the leaked U.S. Government cables, which it submits are important to properly litigating its case, must be addressed before it can file its brief. Out of respect for Mr. Taylor’s requests, the Defense claims, it did not submit its final briefs by the 14 January 2011 deadline.
13 January 2011: Defense for Charles Taylor files a motion before the court seeking an investigation into communications leaked by WikiLeaks about Mr. Taylor’s trial. The Defense states that the cables indicate that the United States Government wanted Mr. Taylor to stay in jail and out of Liberia at all costs. Purportedly, sensitive information was leaked to the U.S. Embassy at the Hague by contacts in the Trial Chamber, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry. The defense council believes this puts the integrity, independence and impartiality of the court in question.
9 November 2010: Mr. Kolleh’s concludes his evidence today. The witness is further questioned about his conflicting statements including the issue of his name change. He maintains that he gave false information about his name and participation in the war because he was afraid that he would be prosecuted. The trial is adjourned until Friday, 12 November for the formal closure of the defense case.
8 November 2010: Prosecutors continue to cross-examine Mr. Kolleh. Mr. Kolleh is asked about his connection with the Director of Mr. Taylor’s Special Security Service (SSS) Benjamin Yeaten. He denies any knowledge of Mr. Yeaton. The witness denies allegations that in 2003 he went to Liberia and informed Mr. Taylor’s men that prosecutors had made contact with him.
5 November 2010: The cross-examination of Mr. Kolleh continues for the third day. The prosecution continues to attempt to establish a connection between Charles Taylor and the war and atrocities in Sierra Leone, which the witness maintains is not true. During cross-examination he states that he is unaware of any weapons not returned from the Kailahun disarmament. He admits that the RUF and Charles Taylor’s Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) attacked both Guinea and Freetown, Sierra Leone, but denies that the forces were combined in either. Mr. Kolleh continued to deny the RUF’s use of child soldiers.
4 November 2010: The prosecution continues the cross-examination of Sam Flomo Kolleh, a Liberian member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF). In an attempt to prove that Mr. Taylor directed, encouraged, or assisted the RUF in a plan to seize control of the government of Sierra Leone, the prosecution suggests to Mr. Kolleh that the majority of RUF trainees were Liberians. Mr. Kolleh said he could not tell the difference between Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. Additionally, the prosecution questions Mr. Kolleh about his involvement in massacres, falsification of his identity and the location of heavy weapons not returned from the disarmament in Kailahun. The witness denied involvement in or knowledge of any of the accusations.
3 November 2010: Sam Flomo Kolleh completed his direct testimony and the prosecution began cross-examination. The direct testimony addressed issues of Kolleh’s credibility who had admittedly falsified his identity. In cross-examination, Kolleh denied any wrongdoing and sated he had falsified his identity only to protect himself and not in an attempt to protect Taylor. The prosecution also questioned Kolleh regarding his lie to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and investigators saying he was trained by the RUF and not Taylor’s NPFL. Kolleh accused the prosecution of bribing him to implicate Taylor and threatened him with prison if he did not cooperate. When questioned regarding the RUF’s use of child soldiers, he admitted they had a Small Boys Unit but was unsure of their ages.
1 November 2010: Liberian member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel groupcommenced his testimony as the final defense witness for the Taylor case. Sam Flomo Kolleh was abducted by NPFL (National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Taylor’s Rebel group) after their invasion of Liberia and was held at Camp Naama where he underwent military training with the RUF. Kolleh invaded Sierra Leone in 1991 with other RUF fighters. Prosecutors have alleged that Taylor provided support and assisted in training RUF rebels at Camp Naama before the invasion of Sierra Leone; Taylor denies these accusations. The witness also provided testimony regarding specific instances of the transfer of arms and of the invasion of Freetown in 1999.
22 October 2010: At today's status conference, Justice Sebutinde announces that the Trial Chamber is dismissing the defense's motion to establish contempt investigations against prosecutors. The defense alleged that prosecutors had bribed, intimidated, and even physically assaulted witnesses in order to have them testify against Charles Taylor. The motion was dismissed in its entirety and the Trial Chamber will publish its reasons in due course.
22 October 2010: At today's status conference, the judges set a time table to end the trial. The defense case will formally close at the latest by 12 November 2010 after the last witness is called. Parties will submit their final trial briefs by 14 January 2011, after a judicial recess. Final oral arguments will follow on 8 February 2011.
21 October 2010: Judges grant the defense's motion to compel prosecutors to disclose exculpatory material received from Witness DCT-032, who was originally approached to be a witness for the prosecution. The evidence requested could show that Charles Taylor did not order the execution of Johnny Paul Koroma, the former leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.
27 September 2010: Defense counsel Terry Munyard says that the defense will not rule out calling any more live witnesses, though it is unlikely they will do so. The judges expect a final statement on closure of the defense case, including a specific date for its conclusion, at the next status conference on 22 October 2010.
17 September 2010: Defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths wants former South African President Thabo Mbeki to testify about the circumstances under which Mr. Taylor stepped down as president of Liberia. Mr. Griffiths also seeks to disprove allegations that Mr. Taylor purchased war materials in South Africa with profits made from rough diamonds given to Mr. Taylor by rebel forces from Sierra Leone. Mr. Griffiths hopes to speak with both Mr. Mbeki and South African weapons makers concerning these matters on an investigative trip to South Africa.
13 September 2010: The defense case in the trial of Charles Taylor prepares to draw to a close with a status conference held in The Hague today. Though defense counsel for Mr. Taylor says that he is preparing a number of motions, it is unlikely that any other live witnesses will be called.
9 September 2010: DCT-008, the last witness for the defense in the trial of Charles Taylor, concludes his evidence. His testimony focused in part on allegations that Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia used child soldiers during the Liberian conflict. According to the witness, though there was something called the Small Boys Unit, it was made up of the younger brothers of commanders, and they were never used in combat situations.
27 August 2010: Issa Hassan Sesay concludes his testimony in The Hague as the nineteenth defense witness in the trial of Charles Taylor.
9 August 2010: In the trial of Charles Taylor, American actress Mia Farrow and agent Carole White testify today for the prosecution, contradicting the testimony of British supermodel Naomi Campbell, given the previous week. They claim that Ms. Campbell knew when she received the gift of diamonds that they were from Mr. Taylor. Though Ms. Campbell does not deny that they could have been a gift from him, she claims she did not know at the time and is hesitant to say anything definite about Mr. Taylor.
26 - 30 July 2010: Issa Hassan Sesay’s testimony continues as he tells the court that he was not made interim leader of the RUF by Mr. Taylor alone, but rather by a group of West African leaders after a meeting in the Liberian capital Monrovia. The former rebel leader also denies claims that an operation undertaken to free the rebel group’s main leader was planned in Monrovia with Mr. Taylor’s involvement. Mr. Taylor’s defense team seeks to further distance the former Liberian president from prosecution claims that he controlled the RUF rebels during their brutal rampage throughout the country’s 11-year civil war.
26 July 2010: As the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor resumes, the much-anticipated testimony of supermodel Naomi Campbell is delayed until 5 August 2010.
19-23 July 2010: The court is in recess.
12 July 2010: As he took the witness stand for a second week, Issa Hassan Sesay, a Sierra Leonean rebel leader, today testified that the Ivory Coast government gave his rebel group a base to stay for far longer than former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, again distancing the former Liberian president from charges that he supported and controlled the neighboring rebels during the brutal 11-year conflict in Sierra Leone.
5-9 July 2010: A former Sierra Leonean rebel leader, Issa Hassan Sesay – released from his jail cell in Rwanda to testify on behalf of Charles Taylor – this week distances the activities of his rebels from the former Liberian President. Mr. Taylor did not control the rebels’ actions, receive diamonds from them, nor provide assistance to themduring Sierra Leone’s bloody civil conflict, he said.
2 July 2010: British supermodel Naomi Campbell is to be served a subpoena and compelled to testify on 29 July in the trial of Charles Taylor about an alleged diamond gift she received from the former Liberian president in South Africa in 1997. The subpoena was issued after judges agreed that prosecutors could re-open their case with a select cast of high profile witnesses. Ms. Campbell, along with her former agent, Carole White, and actress Mia Farrow, are slated to be called as witnesses as prosecutors get another chance to try to show that Mr. Taylor can be held responsible for crimes committed by Sierra Leonean rebel forces during that country’s bloody 11-year conflict.
28 June 2010: Charles Taylor’s fifteenth defense witness denies the prosecution’s suggestions that he received money from court officials as an incentive to testify before taking the witness stand on behalf of the former Liberian president in The Hague. The witness informs the court that its Victims and Witness Section (VWS) indeed provided some money for him, but states that such money went towards medical services, transportation, and accommodation. He did not physically see the money paid on his behalf.
25 June 2010: Prosecutors point out that there have been several inconsistencies in the written statements made to defense lawyers and the oral testimony given in court by Charles Taylor’s fifteenth witness whose cross-examination resumed today, having being put on hold on after the witness concluded his direct examination about two weeks ago. On 8 June 2010, SCSL judges suspended the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor’s witness DCT-190 on the basis that the witness’s statements which were disclosed to prosecutors by defense lawyers were “grossly inadequate.”
21-25 June 2010: Isatu Kallon (defense witness), a Sierra Leonean who helped in recruiting fighters to invade Sierra Leone in 1991, concludes her testimony as Charles Taylor’s eighteenth witness, telling judges about her support and loyalty to the Sierra Leonean rebel leader Foday Sankoh and denying prosecution claims that she was loyal to Mr. Taylor and his Liberian rebel group. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Taylor and RUF leader Mr. Sankoh were involved in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at taking over the territory of Sierra Leone and establishing control over the country’s diamond resources. Mr. Taylor denies these allegations.
14-18 June 2010: A Sierra Leonean woman, Isatu Kallon (defense witness), who helped Sierra Leonean rebels in the recruiting and training of fighters in Liberia testifies that as far as she knows, Charles Taylor’s name was never mentioned as one of those helping to recruit and train rebels to invade Sierra Leone in 1991. The witness also informs the court that West African peacekeepers and Guinean military officers were involved in trading diesel, arms, and ammunition with Sierra Leonean rebel commanders during the West African country’s 11 year civil war. Isatu Kallon, commonly called “Mammie Iye,” tells the court that while she helped Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh to enlist and train rebel fighters to invade Sierra Leone in 1991, not once did she ever hear from Mr. Sankoh or other senior RUF commanders that Mr. Taylor was involved in those efforts. Kallon states that rebel forces fighting to take power in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 used the country’s diamonds to purchase arms and ammunition from military officers in neighboring Guinea.
11 June 2010: The widow of Charles Taylor’s former Vice President testifies that she was never told that her husband died from torture administered by Liberian security forces on Mr. Taylor’s orders. Her husband’s serious illness, the witness said, was instead the cause of his death. Enoch Dogolea was Mr. Taylor’s Vice President when he (Taylor) became President of Liberia in 1997. In 2000, Mr. Dogolea died in neighboring Ivory Coast while there for medical treatment. After his death, reports emerged that his sickness was as a result of being beaten by Mr. Taylor’s security forces acting on orders of the former Liberian President. In March 2008, Joseph “Zig Zag” Marzah, a former member of Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), testified that Mr. Dogolea had been beaten to the point of death.
4 June 2010: Prosecutors question a defense witness for Charles Taylor about the death of Liberian politician Samuel Dokie, who was allegedly assassinated alongside his family in 1997 by fighters loyal to the former Liberian president. Prosecutors aim to prove that in addition to supporting Sierra Leonean rebels, Mr. Taylor did not respect the law and that he was notorious for eliminating persons perceived to be opposed to him.
3 June 2010: Mr. Taylor’s thirteenth defense witness, a former executive member of the RUF, who has testified with partial protective measures, today concluded his testimony, during which he agreed with prosecutors that Mr. Taylor lied under oath when he testified that he had not spoken to RUF leaders to take Sam Bockarie back to Sierra Leone after the RUF commander had relocated to Liberia in 1999.
2 June 2010: A Defense witness for Charles Taylor says that Liberian members of Charles Taylor’s rebel group who assisted Sierra Leonean rebels during the West African country’s civil conflict were not sent by the former Liberian president, but did so voluntarily.
31 May 2010: Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor ask SCSL judges to deny the request by prosecutors to issue a subpoena for supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is alleged to have received a rough diamond from Mr. Taylor while on a visit to South Africa in 1997.
24-28 May 2010: There are no court hearings as the judges are attending the plenary session for judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor’s trial resumes on Monday, 31 May, with a continuation of Mr. Dehmie’s cross-examination.
21 May 2010: Prosecutors in the trial of Charles Taylor make an application to SCSL judges for the issuance of a subpoena to supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is alleged to have received a rough diamond gift from the former Liberian president after a 1997 state dinner with former South African president Nelson Mandela.
17 May 2010: The Charles Taylor trial moves from its location at the International Criminal Court and resumes at the new Special Tribunal for Lebanon court for the remainder of the proceedings.
10-14 May 2010: A witness testifying for the former Liberian president tells the court that Charles Taylor executed his own rebel commanders who sold arms to the Sierra Leonean rebels, as well as prosecuted and punished rebels who harmed civilians. Timan Edward Zammy, a former Brigade Commander in Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group also says that a fellow Liberian rebel Joseph “Zig Zag” Marzah lied before the court when he testified against Mr. Taylor in 2008.
26-30 April 2010: Two defense witnesses for former Liberian president Charles Taylor testify that the Liberian nationals who became part of the Sierra Leone rebel group were neither sent to Sierra Leone by Mr. Taylor nor did they communicate with the former Liberian president while they were there, and the renegade rebel group Black Ghadaffa from Liberia, which later found its way into Sierra Leone, was not created by Mr. Taylor.
19-23 April 2010: A defense witness for Charles Taylor this week testifies that there was no exchange of arms and diamonds between Sierra Leonean rebels and Mr. Taylor and that while the Sierra Leonean rebels were trained in a territory under control of Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia, they did not receive any assistance from the former Liberian president. Another witness also this week tells the court that while he never saw Liberian rebels among Sierra Leonean rebels who attacked his hometown in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor did invite Sierra Leonean rebels to Liberia sometime in 1995. Prosecutors now say that Mr. Taylor lied under oath when he testified that he had no relationship with the Sierra Leonean rebels after 1992.
19 April 2010: Fayia Musa (defense witness) testifies that claims of Mr. Taylor’s Liberian fighters being part of the RUF fighters who invaded Kailahun district in eastern Sierra Leone in 1991 are false. His account contradicts that of his fellow defense witness, John Vincent — also a former member of the RUF — who had previously told the court that Liberian nationals constituted a huge percentage of the RUF group that invaded Sierra Leone in 1991. Mr. Musa also denies allegations that the RUF subjected civilians to forced labor.
16 April 2010: Despite prosecution fears that its case will be “irreparably prejudiced” if it does not gain access to important background statements by Charles Taylor’s current defense witness, Fayia Musa, former spokesperson for the RUF, judges disagree, and order cross-examination to start on Monday. Mr. Musa, who was an RUF insider, denies the prosecution’s claims that the former Liberian president had control over RUF rebels, telling the judges that Mr. Taylor severed all relationships with the RUF as far back as 1992.
12-16 April 2010: Two former members of the RUF, a Sierra Leonean rebel group, tell judges this week that they had only themselves to blame for the atrocities committed during the conflict – Charles Taylor had no responsibility for the crimes. Mr. Ngebeh states that the only time Mr. Taylor supported the RUF was in 1991 when the conflict started in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor himself admits to providing support for the RUF in 1991. The former president told the court that his support to the RUF was needed to fend off attacks on his positions in Liberia from United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) rebels. ULIMO was being assisted by the Sierra Leonean government – it made sense, Mr. Taylor had testified, to support the RUF rebels who were fighting to dislodge the Sierra Leonean government. This support stopped in 1992, according to Mr. Taylor, after the Liberian rebels fell out with their RUF counterparts. Corroborating Mr. Taylor’s evidence, Mr. Ngebeh has testified that Liberian rebels in Sierra Leone indeed returned to Liberia after falling out with the RUF in an operation titled “Top 20, Top 40, and Top Final.”
2 April 2010 - 12 April 2010: Court is on recess.
1 April 2010: Defense witness, John Vincent, tells the court that paramilitary units, used for Liberian security, were established without the knowledge of former Liberian president Taylor. Vincent is a Liberian that served as training commandant for the RUF. He said that he created units in the Liberian military with Taylor's knowledge. The issue arose after Taylor's 2009 testimony, in which he said that no Special Operation Division (SOD) existed. Vincent affirmed that they did, but were created without the knowledge of the president.
25 March 2010: Direct-examination of Taylor's seventh defense witness begins. John Vincent, a Liberian national who was a member of the RUF, told the court that RUF rebels were trained in Liberia but with no assistance from Taylor. Vincent testified that he trained at Camp Nama in Liberia, a training camp which Prosecutors allege RUF rebels were trained at with the assistance from Taylor. Vincent told the court during his training there he never saw Taylor.
24 March 2010: Defense lawyers conclude direct-examination of Ngebeh. Suspension of cross examination was requested and granted.
23 March 2010: Continuing testimony, defense witness Ngebeh tells the court that RUF rebels forced civilians to work in the mines and those that refused were beaten or killed. Earlier in the trial Prosecutors alleged that the RUF forced civilians to labor in the mines and then used the diamonds to pay Taylor for arms and ammunition.
22 March 2010: Defense witness, Charles Ngebeh, a Sierra Leonean who served as an arms repairer for the RUF, testifies that while Taylor provided support to Sierra Leonean rebel forces, the support ceased in 1991. At that time Taylor withdrew his Liberian fighters from Sierra Leone, due to a clash between Taylor's NPFL fighters and Sierra Leone rebels. Earlier in the trial Taylor addressed this same issue, stating that he had Liberian fighters helping RUF but they were withdrawn after a clash between the two. After Taylor's NPFL fighters were withdrawn, he also ceased to supply RUF with arms and ammunition. Before 1991, Liberia had supplied the majority of RUF ammunitions.
19 March 2010: A protected Gambian witness, whose cross-examination was delayed on March 10, takes the stand. The Prosecutors questioned the witness about receiving money to testify for Taylor, in the amount of 11,000 USD for a Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA). The witness denied the allegation, saying that the DSA should not be viewed as a bribe.
18 March 2010: A protected defense witness, a Liberian national and former RUF member, denies that Taylor supplied weapons to Sierra Leonean rebels. He claimed the two main ways they received weapons were through attacks on enemy forces and purchasing them from Guinean soldiers. The testimony paralleled information prepared by RUF commander, Sam Bockarie, for his leader, Foday Sankoh. On cross-examination the witness denied that RUF rebels used child soldiers for combat and claimed they did not commit crimes of rape.
10 March 2010: Continuing direct-examination, witness DCT 125, claims that the Liberian revolution failed because of foreign interference that prevented Taylor from liberating his people. Prosecutors requested more time to prepare before cross-examination, the court granted the request.
9 March 2010: Protected witness DCT 125, who had been a pan-African revolutionary colleague of Taylor, testifies that he never heard Taylor giving orders to rebels to kill, rape, loot or burn people's houses. The witness further told the court that any crimes committed under Taylor's rule were isolated incidents, without Taylor's knowledge.
4 March 2010: A new defense witness takes the stand. The witness, a protected witness (DCT 125), testified about the character of Taylor. He told the court that Taylor wanted to empower his people so that they could develop their country. The witness described himself as a founding member of the Mataba (Libyan Bureau), which provided military and ideological training for revolutionaries from different parts of the world.
2 March 2010: Defense witness, Smythe, acknowledges that there were misrepresentations in his written statement, after Prosecutors pointed out inconsistencies between his written statement and oral testimony. One example Prosecutors pointed out, Smythe testified in court Taylor’s rebel group NPFL did not use child soldiers. In his written statement made to defense lawyers in 2009 he said there was a Small Boys Unit, a group of child soldiers.
1 March 2010: During cross-examination, the Prosecution questions defense witness Yanks Smythe about Taylor’s presence in NPFL headquarter town, Gbangha, in 1996. After the witness agreed with the Prosecutor that Taylor did go to Gbangha in 1996, the Prosecutor read a portion of Taylor’s testimony in which he said that he never went to Gbangha in 1996. Smythe then clarified his response, agreeing with Taylor’s testimony, saying that he meant that after an attack on Taylor’s life in Monrovia, he left and went to Gbangha but never stayed there. Prosecutors are trying to discredit the testimony of the defense witness.
26 February 2010: Smythe says prosecution witnesses lied that former Liberian president recruited the use of child soldiers to fight in Liberia.
25 February 2010: Smythe continues refuting prosecution allegations. He testified that Taylor did not form or contribute to any plan to commit crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone and that he did not receive any diamonds from Sierra Leonean rebel forces.
24 February 2010: Yanks Smthye, defense witness, contradicts Taylor’s testimony by saying that Taylor dismissed Benjamin Yeaten, the director of Taylor’s Special Security Services, for the arrest and execution of Samuel Dokie and his family. Smthye testified Yeaten was suspended because the arrest was not an instruction by Taylor. During cross-examination Taylor told judges that the arrest and execution of Dokie and his family was not ordered by Yeaton as the prosecution had alleged. Prosecutors have alleged Taylor was responsible for arrests and executions of several of his opponents, one of whom was Dokie. Taylor denied the allegation, but Prosecutors further alleged Taylor knew about the unlawful actions taken by forces under him and that he did not take any action to punish those responsible.
23 February 2010: Taylor’s first defense witness, Yanks Smythe, continues testimony. He denies Taylor sent Gambian fighters to help in the March 1991 rebel attack on Sierra Leone and that Taylor used child soldiers while he was leader of the rebel forces in Liberia. In 2008 the Prosecution’s witness, Gambian Suwandi Camara, told the SCSL that Taylor sent two Gambian rebel fighters to support RUF rebels in March 1991. When asked about the two fighters, Smythe said that he was not aware of this.
22 February 2010: Yanks Smythe, Taylor’s first defense witness, claims that Taylor did not have a plan to destabilize West Africa. Smythe was part of a Gambian dissident group which partook in revolutionary training at a Libyan military training camp along with Liberian and Sierra Leonean rebels. Smythe testified that while they all stayed in the same guesthouse and trained in the same camp, no plans were ever formulated to collaborate in attacks in each country. The Prosecutors alleged that in 1980s Taylor met RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, and Gambain dissident, Dr. Kukua Sambasanja, and a plan was created to destabilize West Africa beginning with Liberia. Taylor denied the allegations.
19 February 2010: Taylor wraps up his re-examination and leaves the court with the message that the prosecutors have not proven their case against him.
17 February 2010: On re-examination, Taylor denies the allegation that in 1997 he secretly smuggled arms and ammunitions into Liberia without informing Economic Community of West African State Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeepers.
16 February 2010: On re-examination, Taylor denies working for the CIA while he was a rebel leader in Liberia, yet he did admit to receiving communication equipment from the agency, which hoped that Taylor would help protect US citizens and property during Liberia’s civil war. The Prosecutors had accused Taylor of working with the CIA while also collaborating with Libyan Government, which was providing support to the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group.
15 February 2010: Taylor’s defense counsel begins re-examination. Taylor explained how in 1999 he evaded a United Nations arms embargo by using secret personal bank account, opened in his name at the Liberian Bank for Development Investment (LBDI). He funneled millions of US dollars into the bank account, and then used the majority of the funds to buy arms and ammunition; which were then used to fight rebels threatening to oust his government. During cross-examination the Prosecutors alleged the money was not used for official purposes but to enrich Taylor.
8 February 2010: The judges of the SCSL grant the defense counsel request for a one week adjournment. The defense counsel request was prompted by “certain contentious issues” which had been indentified in Taylor’s cross-examination and that Taylor wished to discuss with his defense team before commencement of his re-examination. The Judges granted the adjournment as part of Taylor’s fair trial rights to consult his lawyer and be given adequate preparation time for his defense.
5 February 2010: After two months of cross-examination of Charles Taylor, cross-examination comes to a close.
2 February 2010: The prosecution alleges that in May 2000 when Taylor helped to secure the release of hundreds of UN peacekeepers held by Sierra Leonean rebels it was in order to help the rebels gain more control over Sierra Leone. Taylor denies the motivation was the enlargement of the RUF rebel’s control.
1 February 2010: Taylor denies Prosecution’s allegation that Taylor did not tolerate press freedom in Liberia during his Presidency.
28 January 2010: Taylor admits to inconsistencies between his direct-examination and cross-examination regarding whether he had ever met the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola rebel group (UNITA). Presently, Taylor responded that he knew him but never met him personally; while during cross-examination he said that he met General Savimbi in Ivory Coast. Taylor responded to these inconsistencies by conceding that his former testimony was incorrect.
27 January 2010: The start of trial is delayed due to Taylor’s failure to appear. The Defense reported that there had been a security breach in Taylor’s cell and that security guards tampered with his documents. While Taylor requested time to cross-check his documents, the court denied this and ordered his appearance.
26 January 2010: Lead prosecutor, Hollis, presents evidence in the Taylor case that the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels used child soldiers; suggesting that it was no surprise the RUF rebels also used child soldiers. Taylor denied the allegations that the NPFL uses child soldiers, stating all children they had were all placed in orphanages.
25 January 2010: The Prosecution continues cross-examination of Taylor, attempting to show a consistent pattern of crimes between the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and RUF and that rebel groups in both had the same command structure, namely: Taylor as commander.
21 January 2010: The Prosecution continues its attempts to impeach Taylor’s credibility as a witness testifying in his own defense. In cross-examination, the lead prosecutor questioned Taylor about activities in Liberia to establish actions of rebel forces in Sierra Leone as consistent with those of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), of Liberia.
16 January 2010: Lead prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, begins cross-examination of Mr. Taylor. The Prosecution accuses Taylor of giving a “blood diamond” to Naomi Campbell during a 1997 visit to South Africa. Judges disallowed a document that came from Mia Farrow stating that Taylor had received the diamond from the Sierra Leone junta regime. Taylor denies the allegations and accuses the prosecutors of using fresh evidence during cross-examination.
13 January 2010: The technical problems continue.
12 January 2010: Mr. Taylor shows up 45 minutes late because there was an attempt to bring him to court with other ICC detainees, in a manner which Taylor had refused in the past and had caused previous delays. Then, technical problems with the court’s hardware system hindering the ability to produce live notes of the transcripts cause the proceedings to be adjourned early.
7 December 2009: Taylor trial is adjourned until 11 January 2010.
16 November 2009: The Special Court turned over its detention facilities to Sierra Leone Prison Service, where it will be used to house female inmates. Last month the prisoners of the Special Court were transferred to Rwanda, where they will serve their sentences.
6 November 2009: The Administration of World Wide Justice (AOJWW) is conducting a month long witness training program, sponsored by the SCSL. The police officers selected will receive training in witness protection and handling issues (witness documentation and assessment), threat assessment and relocation options. The Court will provide five years of protection to witnesses who testified.
26 October 2009: Appeals Chamber delivers judgment in the case against three former RUF leaders: Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao. The Chamber unanimously upheld the convictions of Sesay and Kallon on all 16 counts and unanimously overturned Gbao’s conviction on Count 2 (collective punishments) and found that he was not responsible for one of the two attacks against UN peacekeepers (Count 15) for which he was convicted by the Trial Chamber. The majority of the Chamber also upheld Gbao’s liability for crimes pursuant to his participation in the Joint Criminal Enterprise, although three judges dissented on this holding.
8 September 2009: The appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations of Sierra Leonean lawyer Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara as Acting Prosecutor of the Special Court takes effect.
4 September 2009: Judges and members of Uganda’s recently-established War Crimes Division visit the Special Court as part of a study of transitional justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone.
2-4 September 2009: Appeals Chamber hears three days of oral arguments in the appeal by three convicted former leaders of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF): Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, who were convicted in February for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In April, the Trial Chamber handed down sentences ranging from 25 to 52 years.
19 August 2009: Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp is confirmed as the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. Mr. Rapp will leave the Court on 7 September.
16 July 2009: Special Court President Justice Winters and Prosecutor Stephen Rapp brief the United Nations Security Council on the progress of the Court and remaining challenges.
13 July 2009: The Defense opens its case in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
3 July 2009: The Registrars of the Special Court, the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issue a joint declaration on the administration of justice following a roundtable meeting in Venice.
29 June 2009: The Special Court concludes a sentence enforcement agreement with Finland, which will allow the Court to send a convict to serve the remainder of his sentence in that country.
25 May 2009: Justice Renate Winter is re-elected as President of the Special Court.
4 May 2009: The Trial Chamber presiding over the Charles Taylor case dismisses the Defense’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and orders the Taylor defense to open on 29 June.
4 May 2009: Justice Shireen Avis Fisher of the United States is sworn in as an Appeals Chamber judge.
9 April 2009: The Prosecution responds to Charles Taylor's Defense's oral submissions of a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal in the The Hague.
8 April 2009: In theRUFcase, the Special Court sentences Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao.Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao are sentenced to multiple terms of imprisonment to be served concurrently: Sesay's longest being 51 years, Kallon's longest being 40 years, and Gbao's longest being 25 years.
6 April 2009: Defense counsel for Charles Taylor presents oral submissions of a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, arguing that the Prosecution failed to present evidence or prove its case beyond reasonable doubt on all counts in the indictment that would warrant a conviction against Mr. Taylor.
23 March 2009: The Special Court hears additional oral arguments on sentencing for the RUFcase.
19 March 2009: The SCSL signs a sentence enforcement agreement with the Rwandan government for SCSL-convicted war criminals to serve their sentences in Rwanda.
27 February 2009: The Prosecution rests its case against Charles Taylor and objects to Defense's request for 40 days to prepare for next stage of trial. The next hearing is set for 6 April 2009 for the Defense’s oral submissions on a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.
25 February 2009: The Trial Chamber issues oral judgment convicting three former RUF leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Issa Hassan Sesay and Morris Kallon are convicted on 16 of 18 original counts, and Augustine Gbao was convicted on 14 of 18 original counts.
30 January 2009: The Prosecution concludes witness testimony in the trial for former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Altogether, Prosecutors called 91 witnesses to support their 11 count indictment of Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity.The Prosecution is awaiting decisions on several outstanding motions from the Trial Chamber beforeresting its case.
22 November 2008: Justice A. Raja N. Fernando, a Judge of the Appeals Chamber and former President of the Special Court, passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka after a short illness.
6 November 2008: Special Court publishes glossary of legal terms in the four major local languages of Sierra Leone.
20 October 2008: Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp accuses Charles Taylor’s Defence lawyers of causing hardship for victim witnesses by requiring the witnesses’ presence in the court, located in the Hague, when their evidence is not in dispute.
30 September 2008: Defendant Charles Taylor absent from proecedings due to observance of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
2 September 2008: The Special Court for Sierra Leone informs the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia that any request for an audience with Charles Taylor would have to comply with the “Practice Direction on the procedure following a request by a State, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or other legitimate authority to take a statement from a person in the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone,” adopted by the Special Court on 9 September 2003 and amended on 4 October 2003.
1 September 2008: The Special Court for Sierra Leone receives a request from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia for an audience with former President of Liberia Charles Taylor.
5 August 2008: Closing arguments conclude in the RUF case.
24 June 2008: Witness testimony in the case of RUF case concludes. No further witness testimony will be given at the Court in Freetown.
30 May 2008: Justice Jon Kamanda Elected Vice President of Special Court.
29 May 2008: Justice Renate Winter Elected President of Special Court.
28 May 2008: Appeals Chamber overturns convictions of both AFRC accused on the collective punishments charge as well as Kondewa’s conviction for the use of child soldiers. At the same time, the Appeals Chamber enters new convictions against both Fofana and Kondewa for the crimes against humanity of murder and other inhumane acts. The Appeals Chamber also enhanced the sentences against the both accused, meaning Fofana will serve 15 years and Kondewa will serve 20 years.
6 March 2008: In the RUF case, Trial Chamber I denies Defence motion for an order to the Prosecution to clarify and specify the scope of its case regarding RUF involvement in the Freetown invasion on January 6, 1999.
27 February 2008: In the Taylor case, Trial Chamber II denies confidential Prosecution motions SCSL-03-01-T-372 and SCSL-03-01-T-385 for the testimonies of witnesses to be held in closed session.
25 February 2008: Trial Chamber I grants the Prosecution’s application for leave to appeal decision on the Sesay Defence motion requesting the lifting of protective measures in respect of certain Prosecution witnesses.
22 February 2008: Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp commends the judgment of the Appeals Chamber upholding the Trial Chamber convictions of the three AFRC Defendants for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
22 February 2008: In the AFRC case, the Appeals Chamber upheld the sentences of Alex Tamba Brima (fifty years), Brima Bazzy Kamara (forty-five years), and Santigie Borbor Kanu (fifty years).
20-21 February 2008: The Special Court convenes an international conference to consider “residual issues” facing the court when it closes down, such as the enforcement of sentences, how requests for a review of judgment would be handled, and witness protection.
24 January 2008: In the RUF case, Trial Chamber I dismisses the Defence’s appeal against the Court’s decision dismissing Sesay and Gbao’s Motion for Voluntary Withdrawal or Disqualification of Hon. Justice Bankole Thompson.
21 January 2008: In the CDF case, the Appeals Chamber denies the Request of Human Rights Watch for Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae in the Prosecution Appeal against the Judgment and Sentencing Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa.
7 January 2008: In the Taylor case, trail resumes in The Hague.
7 November 2007: Justice Jon Kamanda is sworn in as Appeals Judge
9 October 2007: In the CDF case, the Court issues sentencing judgments. Moinina Fofana, who is convicted on four counts, is to serve six years, and Allieu Kondewa, who is convicted on five counts, is to serve an eight-year sentence. Both are to be given credit for time served since being taken into custody on May 29, 2003.
2 August 2007: In the CDF case, the Court issues its judgment. Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa are each convicted on courts of murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishments. Kondewa is also convicted on one count of recruitment of child combatants under the age of 15.
20 July 2007: The Secretary General of the United Nations appoints Herman von Hebel as Registrar of the Court. Mr. von Hebel has served as Deputy Registrar of the Court since July 2006. He in turn names Binta Mansaray to succeed him as Deputy Registrar.
19 July 2007: In the AFRC case, the Court hands down its first sentences to former members of Sierra Leone's Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Alex Tamba Brima ("Gullit"), Brima Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu ("Fiver-Five"). Brima and Kanu are sentenced to fifty years in prison and Kamara to forty-five years; all will receive credit for the time they were detained pending trial.
5 July 2007: Justice Benjamin Mutanga Itoe (Cameroon) is elected to a one-year term as Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber I. He succeeds Justice Bankole Thompson (Sierra Leone).
25 June 2007: In the Taylor case, Charles Taylor’s trial resumes. The defendant again refuses to appear, prompting the Court to rule that his failure to show constitutes a boycott and thus the defendant may not represent himself in the proceedings.
20 June 2007: In the AFRC case, Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu are convicted on 11 of 14 counts, including murder, rape and enlisting child soldiers. The judgment is the first to be handed down at the SCSL, and it marks the first time that an international court or tribunal has ruled on the charge of recruitment of child soldiers into an armed force, and on the crime of forced marriage in an armed conflict.
4 June 2007: In the Taylor case, the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor begins with opening arguments. Taylor boycots the processdings and his assigned attorney walks out of the courtroom, claiming that Taylor has fired him and wishes to act as his own attorney.
17 May 2007: Justice George Gelaga King (Sierra Leone) is re-elected Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber.
4 May 2007: Justice El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) is sworn in as an alternate Judge of the Special Court’s Trial Chamber.
3 May 2007: In the RUF case, the defense case opens.
19 March 2007: Herman Von Hebel is appointed Acting Registrar, replacing Lovemore Munlo.
22 February 2007: In the CDF case, former Sierra Leone Internal Affairs Minister Sam Hinga Norman Dies in Dakar, Senegal, while recovering from “routine” medical procedures performed on February 8.
23 January 2007: In the Taylor case, in response to a Defense request the Court decides that trial will be postponed until June 4, 2007.
17 January 2007: In the CDF and RUF cases, Sam Hinga Norman and Issa Sesay are flown to Dakar, Senegal, for undisclosed medical treatment.