The trial of the ex-Liberia President Charles Taylor has been adjourned to January 2008 at a Status Conference held in The Hague yesterday.
In his argument the lead defence counsel for Mr Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths QC, submitted that they needed more time to prepare for the star of the trial as they had gone through the entire document concerning the trial.
The defence counsel further submitted to the Chamber that they too had to look at the circumstances and that “the court is also operating on finance as the longer the trial takes the more money is used”.
Mr Griffiths explained that his team had no prior knowledge of the case before their appointment and it was only in August that they signed an agreement with the Registry of the court.
Making reference to the documents, the defence counsel said they had received 40,000 pages of documents and that when the team went to Liberia they were also provided with 50 boxes of materials and that they needed to peruse before the start of the case.
Courtenay Griffiths also submitted to the Chamber that among the documents found in Liberia there was a letter from Jimmy Carter which meant that his client was involved in the negotiation of peace in Sierra Leone.
“So we will want to take a look at the case comprehensively and we are not ready to do it now. We are anxious to get on with the trial as our client has spent a long time in detention. And we are going to start from ground zero,” Mr Griffiths said.
Stressing that they would need at least four months delay so that they would have enough time to prepare their case.
In response the prosecution submitted that they had prepared considerable for the case but that they agree with the defence for the delay in the trial.
Brenda Holis, a member of the prosecution, further stated that they disagreed with the defence on the grounds that they were going to start from ground zero because they [defence] should build on the previous defence work as the reason for the delay the prosecution said, was for a fair trial and that will provide any material needed by the defence for the case.
In their ruling the Trial Chamber, presided by Justice Julia Sebutinda, submitted that in as much the prosecution did not have any objection to the discretion entirely lay with the Trial Chamber. Justice Sebutinda ruled that the four months asked for by the defence was a considerable time as they would need adequate time to go through the materials and the other material received from Liberia.
“The four-month period is indeed a reasonable time and so we have granted their motion and orders that the trial be adjourned to Monday January 4th for hearing,” the judges ruled.