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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
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 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 Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
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 Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
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.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid