News / Africa

Charles Taylor's Attorneys Question Credibility of Prosecution Witnesses

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011 (file photo)
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

Defense attorneys for former Liberian president Charles Taylor say testimony from prosecution witnesses is tainted by cash payments from a special fund provided by the United States.  Mr. Taylor's war crimes trial is drawing to a close after more than three years.

Defense attorney Terry Munyard says money "lavished" on prosecution witnesses has polluted "the pure waters of justice."  He told the court that those payments went far beyond the simple reimbursement of expenses and were used in such a way "as to taint the testimony of some of the prosecution witnesses."

Mr. Taylor's lead attorney, Courtenay Griffiths, says what he calls this sometimes extravagant spending is further evidence of a politically-motivated prosecution.

"No similar fund was ever provided or requested by the defense," said Griffiths.  "And despite repeated requests by a number of bodies, the prosecution have never come clean as to how these moneys were acquired and indeed how they were spent."

Griffiths says the prosecution fund to pay witnesses was provided by the United States government as part of what he calls a campaign to ensure that Mr. Taylor is imprisoned.

Prosecutors were not permitted to respond to those allegations Thursday as the defense concluded its closing argument.  Prosecutors present their rebuttal Friday.

Mr. Taylor has pled not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged support of Sierra Leonean rebels from the Revolutionary United Front.

Speaking to the court at the start of closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Nicholas Kumjian says Mr. Taylor is responsible for those rebels and the atrocities they committed.

"The defense is still denying that the RUFF was on a campaign of terror despite all the evidence of hands being chopped off, heads being put on sticks, one child whose hands and feet were chopped off and thrown in the sewer, women being raped and gang raped, women having to hear their children killed and having to carry the heads of the children in bags," said Kumjian.

The defense says there were clearly many human-rights violations during Sierra Leone's civil war, but Mr. Taylor is not responsible.  During the trial, defense attorneys argued that neither Mr. Taylor nor rebel leader Foday Sankoh would have engaged in a campaign of terror because they were both trained in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi. 

Kumjian says the importance of that defense argument is best illustrated by their submission of a 27-page speech by Colonel Gadhafi.

"Even though the prosecution was willing to stipulate that it come into evidence, it was so important to the defense that they chose to read it word-for-word into the record," added Kumjian.  "Well, perhaps there is one thing we can agree on with the defense.  We agree that Charles Taylor is as likely to use terror against civilians as Moammar Gadhafi.  That we believe is established."

In concluding his defense, Griffiths returns to what he calls the selective prosecution of these proceedings as Mr. Taylor is the first African leader to be tried in person.

"His trial has been trumpeted by the prosecution as demonstrating an end to impunity," said Griffiths.  "We agree.  Indeed, his trial is of importance to Africa and this evolving concept of international justice to which we are, as a defense, unswervingly committed.  Yet we note that currently everyone being tried or awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court are from guess where?  Africa.  We are disturbed by this."

A judgment from the U.N. backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is expected later this year.

Defense attorneys for former Liberian president Charles Taylor say testimony from prosecution witnesses is tainted by cash payments from a special fund provided by the United States. VOA West Africa Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Taylor's war crimes trial is drawing to a close after more than three years.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid