The head of the Defence team in the trial at the Special Court of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor has expressed dismay over new security restrictions by the Dutch authorities.
Courtney Griffiths said there was no justification for Mr. Taylor to be subjected to the measures instituted by the Dutch prison authorities including “sensory deprivation”. He said he could not be more precise about what that meant because he said he had been asked by the Custody Authority not give details. “The Defendant is chained around his waist and effectively led like a leashed animal, and he finds that particularly objectionable and degrading”, the lawyer had said earlier.
Griffiths said the court Registrar had the power to influence the Dutch authorities to remove the measures, saying Mr Taylor was opposed to it and that his continued court attendance was conditional on this matter being addressed.
He said Mr Taylor would refuse attending court if the measures remained in place.
Charles Taylor did not attend court on the first two days of the resumption of his trial last week following a summer break due to two new security measures that the Dutch security agencies had placed on detainees at the International Criminal Court. The measures followed the arrest of the indicted former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
But he appeared on the third day after the resumption of the trial with the hope that the measures would be removed in a short period of time and Gregory Townsend, head of The Hague sub-office of the court, was asked by the Judges to investigate the matter and report to the Court.
Yesterday, Townsend submitted a 4-page confidential report and attachments from the Dutch Department of Justice with reasons for the increase in security measures.
He told the court that he had gone up to the higher level of the Department of Prison to pursue the matter but told the court the authorities were unable to reverse the two practices Mr. Taylor had objected to.
“We’re waiting for something in writing to that effect. We will continue our efforts to relieve these practices being put in place for Mr. Taylor, but that’s my report, and the confidential report contains more detail…” Townsend said.
The President of the Judges, Teresa Doherty, said the implementation of this regime had not been due to any action or misbehaviour on the part of the accused, and that nothing in this further report would cause them to change that view. “It appears to the Trial Chamber that the remedies of…Mr. Taylor have not been exhausted, and an appeal now lies to the President of the Court.” Doherty said, adding that Mr Taylor was required to attend the hearing pending further resolution of the matter.
The Defence team continues with the cross-examination of the 35th witness in closed session because of security reasons.
Courtesy BBC World Service Trust
By Mariama Khai Fornah and Joseph Cheeseman in The Hague