Charles Taylor guilty of aiding & abetting, but not command & control or joint criminal enterprise

Charles Taylor listens to verdict.

Charles Taylor listens to verdict.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone delivered their verdict this morning. It took more than two hours to read, and involved first ruling on the facts of the case, then the role Taylor played, and then the legal findings. Taylor sat behind his legal team, periodically taking notes.

Judge Lussick read the verdict in a monotone voice, pausing only to sip his water or move on to a new section.

The ruling was measured. The court found support for some prosecution allegations, but not others. To give a taste of this, Taylor was found to have provided medical care to some RUF leaders, but it is not clear how continuous or substantial this support was.

Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting all of the charges in the indictment. Thank God.

The most interesting part of the ruling, however, was that the judges found that Taylor did not have command and control over the RUF. Nor was he part of a joint criminal enterprise. Taylor “helped” and “guided” and “substantially influenced.” Bockarie was “deferential” to Taylor. But the RUF was not under Taylor’s control, and Taylor was not part of a joint criminal enterprise, according to the verdict.

In the AFRC trial, the Special Court ruled that joint criminal enterprise was not a crime within the court’s jurisdiction. This trial chamber (of the same court!) implicitly accepted that it was (how is that possible? update: this is possible, also see comment), but found insufficient evidence for this charge.

I wonder how Liberians and Sierra Leoneans who watched the verdict understood it. It seemed so official. “Bockarie received quote top-up-cards end quote,” Judge Lussick said at one point. The court ruled on facts with almost unwavering certainty. What is it like to see a foreigner make these judgements so confidently? Does it bring more certainty to the past, or do local people think the judges were tricked?

Any appeals must be filed within 7 days, and sentencing is set for May 16.

As the judges rose to leave, you could hear via the live stream a male voice (not Taylor or Griffiths, I think – update: it was the alternate judge) say, “I would like to say something before the court is adjourned.” The judges continue to leave the room, but the man goes on, “The one point where the judge–” then the live stream cuts out. It’s not clear who this was.

7 thoughts on “Charles Taylor guilty of aiding & abetting, but not command & control or joint criminal enterprise

  1. Kevin Jon Heller

    The SCSL Appeals Chamber upheld the concept of JCE (in a bizarre form, to be sure) in the RUF case. So the Trial Chamber was required to apply it in the Taylor case.

  2. PanAfrican1

    Were you not in the chamber to know who it was that was talking and why whoever it was wasn’t availed the chance of doing so. Mr Lucsick was already armed with the script and it was of no surprise to sane minds. How the aiding and abetting transpired was never even proved. Biased minds have come to the fore. “Thank God”.

  3. Aki

    Boy was this a case of a verdict by ambush. All along the prosecution had been talking about ” Charles Taylor being the leader of the RUF ” He was their God Father, Chief Fiancier etc. Added to this was David Cranes’ “baby” Joint Criminal Enterprise. We didn’t know the prosecution and judges had a trick up their sleeves. Get him on something nobody was thinking about. Does someone who is Aiding and Abbetting bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes in Sierra Leone ?

  4. PanAfrican1

    Aki – I guess it all makes sense in this White mans world. Post agent campaigners around the world to falsely whip up sentiments; pay jobless bloggers to snoop around and equip the media and staged judiciary with the pre-planned script. Malik Sow saw how shabby the verdict was but was promptly silenced . These rats will now focus their attention on another African prey .

  5. Aki

    I had expressed concern that Judge Julia Sebuntide from Uganda had been bought over by the powers that be when she was appointed to be a judge at the United Nations World Court eventhough she was still a sitting judge at the Special Court. My fears have now been confirmed. Only the alternative judge ( An African) Malick Sow had the courage to say that the evidence was so flimsy not to warrant a conviction.

  6. PanAfrican1

    She only stuck to the script so as not to get written out. The man had to be convicted so as to satisfy the Caucasian puppet masters. How else can they justify spending such a large sum of money.

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