The Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague have ordered that a Status Conference be convened on Thursday, January 20, 2011 after a request was made by defense lawyers for former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyers filed a “Defense Request for a Status Conference” in order ”to review the status of the case.”
“The Defense notes the outstanding matters which it submits are crucial to conclusively and properly litigating its case through the final brief,” the defense application stated.
The “outstanding matters” relate to a notice of appeal and several motions that have been filed by defense lawyers including an effort to appeal a Trial Chamber decision on the “Defense Motion Requesting an Investigation into Contempt of Court by the Office of the Prosecutor and Its Investigators,” a “Defense Motion to Recall Four Prosecution Witnesses and to Hear Evidence From the Chief of WVS [Witness and Victims Services] Regarding Relocation of Prosecution Witnesses,” and “Defense Motion for Disclosure and/or Investigation of United States Government Sources Within the Trial Chamber, The Prosecution and the Registry, Based on Leaked USG Cables.”
Prior, a scheduling order issued by the judges required both prosecution and defense to file their final trial briefs by January 14, 2011 in anticipation of hearing closing arguments from February 8 to 11, 2011. While prosecutors filed their final brief by the deadline, defense lawyers on their part failed to do so.
“The Defense acknowledges that it has yet to file a final brief. The Defense emphasises this decision was not made in deliberate disdain of the Court or its orders, and it was not intended to demonstrate any disrespect for the Court’s authority. Instead, the Defense was guided by its professional duty to its client,” defense lawyers wrote in their application.
Defense lawyers also stated that they had refused to accept service of the prosecution’s final brief until such a time when they would have filed their own final brief.
On same Tuesday, January 18, Trial Chamber judges issued a decision in which they granted the defense request to convene a Status Conference.
In the decision, the judges stated that they were granting the defense request, ”[c]onsidering that it is in the interest of justice to give the Defense an opportunity to explain why it failed to file its final trial brief on 14 January 2011, as ordered, and why it has refused to accept service of the Prosecution final trial brief.”
The Status Conference is scheduled to take place at 2:00PM in The Hague, on Thursday, January 20.