Commentary: Introduction of Fresh Evidence by the Prosecution During Cross-Examination in the Special Court for Sierra Leone

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This commentary addresses a number of important evidentiary issues that arose during cross-examination of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, who who stood trial and was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war before the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

At the core of cross-examination was the Prosecution’s strategy to challenge Taylor’s self-portrayal as a peacemaker and to demonstrate a pattern of conduct of the accused in Liberia similar to the one pursued by war-mongering leaders of various rebel groups in Sierra Leone. The Prosecution also attempted to demonstrate close links between the accused and the leadership of the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which he allegedly used to commit crimes in order to gain access to Sierra Leone’s boundless mineral resources, including diamond deposits.

A large part of the Prosecution’s strategy was to impeach the credibility of the accused through the introduction of documentary evidence that unravelled inconsistencies in his prior testimony. This, however, proved on many occasions to be impossible, as the judges treated these documents with great caution, pointing out that this material had not been admitted into evidence during the Prosecution case (“fresh evidence”). This commentary examines, in light of the SCSL jurisprudence and practices, a number of vexed evidentiary issues that accompany the introduction of fresh evidence by the prosecution after the closure of its case-in-chief.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals : The International Criminal Tribunal for Sierra Leone 2009-2011
EditorsAndré Klip, Steven Freeland, Anzinga Low
Number of pages8
Place of PublicationCambridge, Antwerp, Portland
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-1-78068-285-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
SeriesAnnotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals

ID: 119359073