The motion filed by the three Revolutionary United Front (RUF) indictees on the withdrawal of a sitting judge of the Trial Chamber 1 of the Special Court, Justice Bankole Thompson, was dismissed yesterday.
Giving the judgment, presiding judge Benjamin Itoe said “the motion is dismissed in its entirety and we therefore grant leave to appeal as this is the first time such a motion is coming before the court.”
The motion of the voluntarily withdrawal or disqualification of Justice Thompson was to the judgment rendered on 22 August 2007 on the two accused persons of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) in which they were found guilty of the some charges of the indictment and were convicted and not guilty on others and so they were acquitted according to the majority decision.
Justice Itoe further explained that while in a dissenting opinion Justice Thompson found them not guilty in all of the charges and so acquitted them.
The RUF defence in their motion for the voluntarily withdrawal submitted in justice Bankole Thompson’s separate and partially dissenting opinion in the CDF trial, which found the two accused not guilty on all counts that he had reached conclusions and made statements which suggested that he had already made up his mind about the guilty status of the RUF defendants.
It is on these grounds that the counsel for the three accused seek voluntarily withdrawal permanently or disqualifications of Justice Thompson from the case in that he has reached conclusion of fact and law that give rise to reasonable doubts concerning his partiality.
The prosecution in response submitted that the findings made by the learned Judge are exclusively based on the findings of the CDF trial and that the defence has taken the judge’s statement out of context.
The prosecution further submitted that the judge was not making references to crimes and criminality is unattainable when considering the lesser evil of the CDF which includes grotesque acts of criminality against innocent civilians.
In Justice Thompson’s submission to the first and third accused, he stated that the motion seek to litigate his dissenting judgment in the CDF case with the remedy being his disqualification in the RUF trial. He added that the rule to remove a judge did not apply to things done by a judge in the performance of his judicial functions but only to things done outside these functions such as a public lecture or an interview to the press.
The judge further submitted that it was his role to determine the guilty or innocence of a person based on the evidence presented in that trial and not in another trial.