Taylor's claims of bias over cables dismissed

War crimes court dismissed former Liberian President Charles Taylor's claim to its impartiality that was based on U.S. embassy cables published by WikiLeaks

Taylor's claims of bias over cables dismissed

The Special Court for Sierra Leone trying former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes on Friday dismissed a challenge to its impartiality that was based on U.S. embassy cables published by WikiLeaks.

Taylor, who denies all charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers in wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 were killed, had been allowed to use the cables as evidence in court.

But on Friday the court rejected a motion by Taylor's lawyers seeking disclosure and an investigation into the identity of sources that the U.S. government has within the court's trial chamber, prosecution and the registry.

In its filing, Taylor's defence said the cables "raise grave doubts about the independence and impartiality of the Special Court's prosecution of Charles Taylor."

One of the diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks last month contained comments made by a U.S. ambassador that if Taylor was acquitted or given a light sentence, his return to Liberia could "tip the balance in a fragile peace".

Another cable stated that U.S. contacts in The Hague-based court's prosecution and registry said one of the judges may be trying to time proceedings so as to be in charge when the judgement was handed down.

The judge named in the cable, Julia Sebutinde, rejected the allegation and excluded herself from the ruling on the cables to ensure objectivity.

In its ruling, the court said the cables did not demonstrate that such contacts may have a relationship with the U.S. government capable of interfering with its independence or impartiality.

Officials from the court's registry and prosecution interact on a regular basis with governments from a number of countries as part of their official functions, it added.

Both the prosecution and defence have already finished presenting their evidence, but the court ruled in favour of a defence motion seeking to re-open its case for the "limited purpose" of admitting into evidence two U.S. cables.

Reuters

Last Mod: 29 Ocak 2011, 14:10
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