Journalists love Charles Taylor because the showman, ex-president of Liberia and flamboyant war lord always performed his dramatic antics when he was called upon to perform on the world’s stage.
On Monday for the official start of his trial, journalists were not disappointed when true to form Charles Taylor delivered another dramatic coup by refusing to appear for the trial and in the same vain sacked his lawyer, Karim Ahmed Khan.
At The Hague, Mr Khan reading a letter from his client was stopped halfway by the Presiding Judge Julia Sebatunda to ascertain about the absence of the accused.
In response the lawyer replied that from the letter, which he had filed to the registry, his client raised concerns on issues that had been affecting him and until these issues were addressed he ceased attending the court proceedings.
Among the concerns raised by Mr Taylor included that the administration of the Special Court had provided only one lawyer that appeared on his behalf in the midst of nine prosecution lawyer, the issue of a camera in his room and that for the past three month he was unable to talk to his lawyer, also that the principal defender had not been able to communicate with him and was not also present at the hearings.
For all these reasons, the lawyer said, Mr Taylor held that he no longer had confidence in the court and that he could not participate in a shrouded trial and which would not give him a fair trial and he also asked his legal counsel to cease representing him and that he [Taylor] would be representing himself.
After some minutes of consultation, the judges ruled that Mr Khan had been appointed by the court to represent Mr Taylor and that, according to Rule 60(B) of the rules of procedure and evidence which states that an accused may not be tried in his absence, he had not made his first initial appearance but since the accused had made his initial appearance the court had the right to continue with the trial.
The judge further urged the registry to look into the issue and take proper actions.
Mr Khan cited section 80 of the Code of Conduct that he had obligation to his client and the general public and with that, he walked out of the court.
Not withstanding the absence of the lawyer and the accused the opening statements were made by the Chief Prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, which marked the start of the trial.