tv BBC World News PBS May 30, 2012 5:00am-5:30am EDT
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>> welcome to "bbc world news." we're taking you straight to the hague, live into the u.n. special court for the case of charles taylor, former prime minister -- president, sorry, of liberia, found guilty only last month of war crimes in relation to the civil war in sierra leone. this is the moment of which he will learn what his sentence is to be. prosecution calling for 80 years in prison, says no right to the death penalty, 80 years is the highest possible sentence. as the judge is prepared to deliberate, i'm joined now by mark doyle, international development correspondent. mark, obviously much ground background with sierra leone in particular and charles taylor's crimes. i suppose you'll be interested to know how close to that figure they get.
>> 8 owe years is what the prosecution has asked for, because of the heinous nature of the crimes as they describe them. the prosecution now has court business to do before the judge actually passes the sentence. the defense has said that is disproportionate, they said a 64-year-old man to 80 years in jail means he'll die in jail, in effect a life sentence. interestingly, this court is not imposed to impose the life sentence, it has to be a specific number of years. >> right. and nonetheless, given the position that charles taylor finds himself in, and given other sentences that have been handed down to commanders in the field as it were, those ran to decades, didn't they? >> there were three rebels in neighboring sierra leone that charles taylor was accused of working with, using them to get blood diamonds and sierra leone and supplying them with weapons and so on.
those three commanders got 40 years and 25 years. so if charles taylor is the mastermind, i think the judge is about to speak now, maybe he'll get more. >> let's listen in. >> i will read from the full sentencing judgment, which i have before me, which will be filed today when this court adjourns. upon the 26th of april, 2012, the chamber rendered its judgment delivered in summary form finding the accused, charles taylor, guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of the crimes set forth in counts one to 11 of the indictment. it's article 61 of the statute, as well as los angelesening the commission of the crimes set forth in the indictment.
it took place during the attack on colonel and mckin knee december 1998 and in the invasion and retreat from free town between december 1998 and february 1999. on 18th of may, 2012, the chamber found its judgment. the trial chamber scheduled a sentencing hearing for 16 may, 2012, and the parties submitted relevant information for the assistance. trial chamber pursuant to rule 100-a of the rules. the prosecution sentencing brief was filed on the third of may. the defense sentencing brief was filed on 10th of may. at a sentencing hearing on 16th may, 2012, oral submissions
were made by the parties and a statement was made by the accused. the prosecution submits that considering the extreme magnitude and seriousness of the crimes that were committed against the people of sierra leone, for which mr. taylor has been found responsible, the appropriate sentence for charles taylor is imprisonment for a term of not less than 80 years. the defense did not specify what sentence should be imposed , but submits that despite the gravity of the underlying crimes for which mr. taylor has been submitted, the 80-year sentence is "manifestly disproportionate and excessive." the trial chamber considered the written and oral submissions of the parties and the statement of the accused in
the determination of an appropriate sentence. the sentencing judgment, which i said will be filed today, includes a preliminary section on applicable law and a summary of the submissions of the parties, which i will not read out in court. the accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting, as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crime recorded in human history. the trial chamber's view of the offenses for which the accused has been convicted, acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, cruel treatment, recruitment of child soldiers, enslavement and pillage, are of the utmost gravity in terms of the scale and brutality of the
offenses, suffering caused by victims and the families of victims and the vulnerability of a number of victims. in determining an appropriate sentence for the accused, the trial chamber has taken into account the tremendous suffering caused by the commission of the crimes for which the accused can be convicted of planning and aiding and abetting and the impact of these crimes on the victims physically, emotionally, and psychologically. the trial chamber recalls the tremendous loss of life, innocent civilians burned to death in their homes, or brutally killed by maiming and torture. the amputation of limbs was a hall mark of terror and cruelty visited upon innocent civilians. for those who survive these crimes, long-term impact on
their lives is devastating. amputees without arms who now have to live on charity because they can no longer work. young girls who have been publicly stigmatized and will never recover from the trauma of rape and sexual slavery to which they were subjected. in some cases, resulting in pregnancy and additional stigma from the additional born thereof. child soldiers, boys and girls who are suffering from public stigma highlighted by the identifying marks carved on their bodies. and enduring the after effects of years of brutality, often irreparable alienation from their family and community. all is a consequence of the crimes for which mr. taylor stands convicted of aiding and abetting and planning. the defense actually describe
"the pain of lost limbs, the agony of not only rape in its commonly understood sense, but also the rape of childhood, the rape of innocence, possibly the rape of hope." the trial chamber witnessed many survivors weeping as they testified a decade after the end of the conflict. the suffering will be lifelong. in assessing the gravity of the crimes committed, the trial chamber recalls the evidence of several witnesses whose testimony highlights the brutality of the crimes committed, the suffering caused by these crimes on the victims, and their vulnerability. witness tf-1 was forced to carry a bag containing human heads.
on the way, the rebels ordered her to laugh as she carried the bags dripping with blood. the witness testified that when they arrived at the town, the bag was empty and she saw the heads of her children. the witness was 12 years old when he and 50 other poise and girls were captured by revolutionary united front rebels in september 1998 in concoba. the rebels turned him into a child soldier after carving the letters i.u.f. on his chest. having been told to amputate the hands of those resisted him, this 12-year-old subsequently used a machete to amputate the hands of men who refused to open the door of their shop.
when ordered on a food-finding mission to rape an old woman they found at a farmhouse, the boy cried and refused, for which he was punished. the trial chamber recalls the testimony of tf-1358 who treated a young nursing mother, whose eyed had been pulled out from their sockets after she was gang raped by seven armed rebels so that she would not be able to later identify them. the scale and brutality. crimes committed in sierra leone as demonstrated by these individual incidents is also clearly demonstrated by the code names given by the perpetrators to the military campaigns in which the crimes were committed, names such as operation spare no soul and operation no living thing, indicating the indiscriminate killing of anything that moved
speak for themselves as to the gravity of the crimes committed. the trial chamber notes that the effects of these crimes on the families of the victims, as well as the society as a whole are devastating. a number physically handicapped sierra leone residents have been unable to do the simplest tasks as a direct result of amputations. many of the victims were productive members of society, bread winners for their families, and are now reduced to beggars unable to work as a result of the injuries inflicted on them. they are no longer productive members of society. particularly reprehensible were the crimes committed against vulnerable groups. girls and women were raped, subjected to sexual slavery, and in many cases, unwanted pregnancy. pregnant women were cut open to
settle bets as to the sex of the unborn child. child soldiers, both boys and girls, had their innocence stolen and were forced to commit murders, rapes, and mutilations at a very young age. their lives permanently marred by these traumatic experiences. elderly men and women are a particularly vulnerable group and were also affected by the crimes committed, their dignity violated by brutal attacks and cruel treatment. in assessing the role of mr. taylor, the trial chamber has considered the modes of liability under which he was convicted, as well as the nature and degree of his participation. the trial taylor recalls his conviction for aiding and abetting the commission of crimes by armed forces revolutionary council, revolutionary united front is
based on a number of interventions. in addition to supplying arms and ammunition and providing military personnel, mr. taylor provided various forms of sustained operational support, including communications and logical support in addition to this practical assistance, mr. taylor also provided encouragement and moral support through ongoing consultation and guidance. the impact of these various acts of aiding and abetting heighten the gravity of mr. taylor's criminal conduct in the view of the trial chamber. moreover, the steady flow of arms and ammunition that he supplied extended the duration of the sierra leone conflict and the commission of crimes. had we not had this support from mr. taylor, the conflict and the commission of crimes
might have ended much earlier. with regard to mr. taylor's conviction for planning the commission of crimes in the attacks on konel and mckinney and in the invasion of and retreat from between december 1998 and february 1999, the trial chamber notes the commission by the defense distinguishing the design of the overall operation from the planning of the actual crimes that were perpetrated. the trial chamber does not accept this distinction and recalls its finding that having drawn up the plan, mr. taylor followed its implementation closely by a daily communications, either directly or through benjamin. the prosecution argues that the length of time over which the crimes were committed spanning up to five years should be
taken into account as an aggravating factor. the trial chamber has considered this issue in the context of its consideration of the gravity of the offense rather than as an aggravating factor. with regard to the duration of the crimes committed, the defense submits that the bulk of crimes occurred within an 18-month period in 1998 and 1999, not the longer period of five years set forth by the prosecution. the trial chamber notes that the prosecution has outlined various time periods for various crimes with a time period as a whole spanning five years. the trial chamber notes the defense acknowledgment that the full-time span of crimes committed is five years, as documented in its own chart of the temp oral range of cuts. in the trial chamber's view, it is clear from the evidence as
supported by the submissions of both parties that the length of time over which the crimes were committed was five years with a concentration of the crimes have been been committed during an 18-month or two-year period within the five-year time span. in the trial chamber's view, the length of time over which the crimes continued heightens the gravity of the offense. the defense submits that mr. taylor's health and family circumstances, "constitute the essence of the individual circumstances, contemplated in article 192 of the statute" and that they may be regarded as mitigating factors. mr. taylor is 64 years old. the trial chamber is not aware of any serious concerns relating to his health, and no medical evidence has been
submitted relating to his health. the trial chamber notes that mr. taylor has and will continue to have access to medical attention, resonated throughout the period of his sentence. his age and the fact that he's married with children are not in the trial chamber's view mitigating factors in this case. further, he's social, professional, and family back ground, which the defense submits shows the likelihood of rehabilitation, is not a mitigating factor in the trial chamber's view. the trial chamber recalls that the special court appeals chamber, as well as the i.c.t. appeals chamber, has held that the primary objectives in sentencing must be retribution and deterrents. moreover, in the absence of mr. taylor's acceptance of responsibility or remorse for
the crimes committed, the trial chamber does not consider the likelihood of rehabilitation to be significant, nor is it demonstrated by his social, professional, and family background. in light of these krgs, the trial chamber finds that nothing in his personal circumstances justifies any mitigation of his sentence. the defense and mr. taylor have both highlighted their contention that the accused was singled out for selective prosecution. the trial chamber has addressed this issue in its trial judgment and found that mr. taylor was not singled out for selective prosecution. in the trial chamber's view, this is not relevant to his sentencing. on the question of time served, on the sent of march, 2003, the indictment against mr. taylor
was approved by the special court under seal, and a warrant for mr. taylor's arrest was issued. on the fourth of june, 2003, the indictment and warrant of arrest were publicly disclosed and formally unsealed one week later. on 11th of august 2003, mr. taylor stepped down from the presidency. he went into exile to nigeria, where he remained until 29th of march, 2006, when he was arrested by nigerian authorities following a request by the liberian president that he be surrendered to the special court and shown to his warrant of arrest. on the same day, he was handed over to the liberian authorities, who in turn transferred him to the custody of the special court. for security reasons, by order of the president of the court,
in june 2006, mr. taylor was transferred from free town to the netherlands to stand trial in the hague, where he has been on remand since. the defense submits that in addition to the time he's spent in the custody of the court, mr. taylor should be credited for time that he spent in new -- in niger gentleman transfer to his transfer, an additional two years and seven months. the defense submits that during this time, mr. taylor was effectively under house arrest and that the time, therefore, constitutes detention, highlighting the conditions of his stay in nigeria as set forth in exhibit d-406. the prosecution submits that mr. taylor was not under house arrest, highlighting his own testimony that he was free to go where he wanted during this time. rule 101-d of the special court's rules of procedure and
evidence provides that credit for time served shall be taken into consideration for any period during which the convicted person was detained in custody pending his transfer to the special court or pending trial or appeal. the trial chamber notes that house arrest has been recognized as a form of detention, ending surrender, which might be considered for purposes of crediting a convicted person for time served. however, in the case of mr. taylor, the period of time he spent in nigeria cannot considered in the trial chamber's view as having taken place pending his transfer to the court, and therefore, does not fall within the scope of rule 101-d. mr. taylor's time in nigeria was not unrelate to his effort to avoid the jurisdiction of the court, and during his time
in nigeria, the court was no way involved in the conditions governing his stay there. it is from 29th of march, 2006, that mr. taylor was detained in custody pending his transfer to the court. the trial chamber further notes, as highlighted by the prosecution, that mr. taylor himself testified that he was not under house arrest during the period of time he was in nigeria following his departure from liberia. exhibit d-406 is cited by the defense as listing the conditions of his stay in nigeria and including serious restrictions on his movement and liberty. the trial chamber notes that the conditions listed in exhibit d-406 are set forth as "conditions of asylum for former president charles taylor." they list a number of obligations of mr. taylor and
of nigeria. the obligations of mr. taylor include his abstention from subversive activities against nigeria and from political activities in or military incursions into line beer i can't. -- into liberia. the restrictions are the requirement he obtain clearance to leave the city limits and that he be accompanied on any travel outside by an escort officer. security is listed as an obligation of liberia to provide protection to mr. taylor. the trial chamber does not find that these conditions governing the asylum offered to mr. taylor by the government of nigeria can be considered to constitute house arrest as alleged by the defense. in light of these considerations, for reasons of fact and law, the trial chamber does not credit mr. taylor for the period of time he spent in
nigeria prior to his arrest and finds that his detention for the purpose of credit for time served can hinge on 29th of march, 2006. the court has a number of factors to be considered in mitigation of sentence, while the prosecution submits there are no significant mitigating factors. the trial chamber addressed the role of mr. taylor in the peace process for sierra leone at length in its judgment and finds that while mr. taylor publicly played a substantial role in this process, including as a member of the committee of five, later a committee of six, secretly he was fueling hostilities between the afl and the democratically elected authorities in sierra leone by urging the former not to disarm and by actively providing them
with arms and ammunition. for this reason, the trial chamber does not find mr. taylor's role in the peace process to be a mitigating factor in sentencing. the trial chamber notes the constructive role mr. taylor played in the release of u.n. peacekeepers and other hostages, but in light of the gravity of crimes, does not consider this intervention a significant mitigating factor. the defense submits that mr. taylor's record of public service to his country and his resignation from office are mitigating factors. with regard to his resignation from office and departure from liberia, the trial chamber notes the circumstances at the time including his indictment by this court, and does not find that his public service or his resignation from office and departure from liberia has been
mitigating factors in sentence. >> make sense of international news at bbc.com/news. >> funding was made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to know your business, offering specialized solutions and capital to help you meet your growth objectives. we offer tailored solutions for small businesses and major corporations. what can we do for you? >> bbc world news was presented by kcet los angeles.