Chronology of Events in the Trial of Charles Taylor
March 3, 2003
The Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David Crane, signs and files the indictment against Charles Taylor while he was sitting president of Liberia.
March 7, 2003
The Trial Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone confirms the indictment against Charles Taylor and orders it to remain under seal.
June 4, 2003
The Prosecutor unseals the indictment while Charles Taylor was attending peace talks with other African leaders in Ghana. African heads of state seek to convince Mr. Taylor to step down as president of Liberia in order to bring the Liberian conflict to a peaceful conclusion.
July 23, 2003
Lawyers on behalf of Charles Taylor file a Motion made under protest and without waiving of immunity accorded to a head of state President Charles Ghankay Taylor, requesting that the Trial Chamber quash the approved indictment of March 7, 2003.
July 28, 2003
The prosecution files a Response to the defense Motion to quash the indictment against Charles Taylor.
July 30, 2003
Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor file a Reply to the Prosecution’s Response to the Applicant’s Motion made under protest and without waiving of immunity accorded to a head of state President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
August 11, 2003
Charles Taylor steps down as president of Liberia and went into exile in Calabar, Nigeria.
December 4, 2003
Interpol issues a “Red Notice” (international arrest warrant) for Charles Taylor while he was an asylee in Calabar, Nigeria
May 31, 2004
The Appeals Chamber dismisses the Motion brought on behalf of Charles Taylor on July 23, 2003 that challenged his indictment on the grounds of sovereign immunity and extraterritoriality.
March 6, 2006
Prosecutors file a Motion for leave to amend the indictment against Charles Taylor
March 16, 2006
The Trial Chamber approves an amended indictment, reducing the counts in the indictment against Charles Taylor from 17 to 11.
March 29, 2006
Charles Taylor is apprehended by Nigerian authorities after a request for his arrest from Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. He is flown to Monrovia, where he was arrested by United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Liberia. On the same day, he is transferred to the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
April 3, 2006
Charles Taylor made his initial appearance before Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in Freetown. He pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
June 16, 2006
UN Security Council Resolution 1688 clears the way for Taylor to be tried in The Hague instead of Freetown, saying that his presence in the sub-region was “an impediment to stability and a threat to the peace”.
June 30, 2006
Charles Taylor was transferred to The Hague, where his trial would be conducted by Special Court for Sierra Leone judges.
June 4, 2007
The Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Steven Rapp, makes his opening statement in The Hague. Charles Taylor refuses to attend the trial and dismisses his legal team, saying that he did not have enough resources for the preparation of his defense. The trial is adjourned until new counsel was assigned to him.
January 7, 2008
Charles Taylor’s trial begins in earnest as the prosecution called its first witness to testify. The prosecution’s first witness was Ian Smillie, an expert witness on diamonds in the West African sub-region. Charles Taylor’s new team of lawyers, led by British practicing lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC make their first appearance in court.
May 14, 2008
Charles Taylor’s former vice president Moses Blah commences his testimony as a witness for the prosecution. Mr. Blah was led in evidence by the then Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp.
May 15, 2008
Charles Taylor’s former Vice President, Moses Blah, testifies about the death/execution of RUF commander Sam Bockarie, allegedly by security forces loyal to Charles Taylor.
May 19, 2008
Charles Taylor’s defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths commences the cross-examination of former Liberian president Moses Blah.
May 21, 2008
Former Liberian President Moses Blah concludes his testimony as a witness for the prosecution.
January 30, 2009
The last prosecution witness, a double amputee, testifies about his ordeal in the hands of Sierra Leonean rebels during the January 1999 rebel invasion of the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown. In all, prosecutors led a total of 91 witnesses, 58 of whom were crime base witnesses, 29 insider (linkage) witnesses and four expert witnesses. In addition, written statements were admitted from four crime base witnesses and reports were admitted from two additional expert witnesses.
February 27, 2009
Prosecutors close their case against Charles Taylor.
April 7, 2009
Charles Taylor’s defense lawyers make an oral submission of “No Case to Answer or Motion for Judgment of Acquittal” to the judges stating prosecutors had failed to prove their case against Mr. Taylor.
April 11, 2009
Prosecutors make an oral response to the defense oral submission of “No Case to Answer/Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.”
May 4, 2009
The Trial Chamber dismisses in its entirety the defense application of “No Case to Answer/Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.”
July 13, 2009
The defense opens their case with an opening statement by Charles Taylor’s defense counsel, Courtenay Griffiths. Mr. Griffiths says that Mr. Taylor was not guilty of the charges against him and that the trial was a conspiracy by western countries, specifically the United States and the United Kingdom, to effect regime change in Liberia.
July 13, 2009
Charles Taylor takes the witness stand and commences his testimony as a witness in his own defense.
July 17, 2009
Charles Taylor in his testimony alleges CIA involvement in his jail break from a Massachusetts prison.
July 21, 2009
Charles Taylor testifies that he did not know about the establishment of the RUF, the rebel group that he is accused of helping to establish and supporting to wage war in Sierra Leone.
July 27, 2009
Charles Taylor testifies that the international community consented to his contacts with the RUF while he was president of Liberia. He said that all such contact was geared towards bringing peace to Sierra Leone.
July 31, 2009
Charles Taylor in his testimony accuses the United Nations of linking him with RUF rebels in Sierra Leone.
September 30, 2009
Charles Taylor calls allegations against him as “racist” and says that his trial is part of a regime change policy by Western countries.
November 10, 2009
Defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths concludes the direct-examination of Charles Taylor. Lead prosecutor Brenda Hollis immediately commences the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor.
December 1, 2009
Judges grant a prosecution request to use new evidence in the cross-examination of Charles Taylor. Such new evidence, the judges say, must be disclosed to the defense before their use in court.
December 7, 2009
The court takes an early Christmas break as judges grant the defense more time to study the documents disclosed as new evidence by prosecutors for the cross-examination of Charles Taylor.
January 11, 2010
Prosecutors resume the cross-examination of Charles Taylor.
February 5, 2010
Prosecutors conclude the cross-examination of Charles Taylor.
February 15, 2010
Defense lawyers commence the re-examination of Mr. Taylor.
February 19, 2010
Charles Taylor concludes his testimony as a witness in his own defense, telling the judges that prosecutors have not proved their case against him.
February 22, 2010
Charles Taylor’s first defense witness, a Gambian national who obtained Liberian citizenship Mr. Yanks Smythe, commences his testimony.
May 20, 2010
The prosecution requests that the court allow it to reopen its case and call three additional witnesses—Naomi Campbell, Carole White, and Mia Farrow—and issue a subpoena for Campbell. The prosecution alleged that In September 1997, Charles Taylor gave Campbell a large rough diamond or several rough diamonds as a gift while he and she were in South Africa. The prosecution further alleged that the diamonds were given to Taylor by Sierra Leonean rebel forces in order to purchase arms and ammunition for use in Sierra Leone.
June 30, 2010
The Trial Chamber rules in favor of the prosecution, allowing them to reopen their case and present new evidence against Charles Taylor regarding the incident is South Africa.
July 1, 2010
The Trial Chamber issues a subpoena to supermodel Naomi Campbell stating that she must appear to testify in The Hague on July 29, 2010.
July 5, 2010
Former interim leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Issa Hassan Sesay, commences his testimony on behalf of Charles Taylor.
August 5, 2010
Supermodel Naomi Campbell testifies as the prosecution’s 92nd witness. She states that in September 1997, while attending a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, two unknown men brought her a pouch of “dirty-looking stones” late at night. She said she did not know who sent the men to give her the pouch of stones.
August 9, 2010
Hollywood actress Mia Farrows testifies as a prosecution witness about Campbell’s declaration that she had received a diamond from Charles Taylor. Farrow’s account differed substantially from Campbell’s with respect to the number and size of diamonds received and the question of whether Campbell knew who they came from.
Carol White, Naomi Campbell’s former agent who accompanied her to South Africa in 1997, also testifies on behalf of the prosecution that Campbell was aware that the diamonds came from Taylor.
September 27, 2010
The defense requests an independent investigation into the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and its investigators. The defense alleged that the OTP had committed an abuse of process in its investigations and had brought the administration of justice into disrepute.
October 22, 2010
The Trial Chamber establishes the timeline for the conclusion of the trial. The defense is ordered to finalize its case by November 12, 2010. Both prosecution and defense are given until January 14, 2011 to submit their final trial briefs.
The Trial Chamber also announces its denial of the request to conduct an independent investigation into prosecution conduct on two grounds. First, the Chamber held the motion was untimely, and second, that it did not fall within the ambit of Rule 77 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The Trial Chamber noted that its finding on those two issues was sufficient to dispose of the motion. (This decision was not published until November 11, 2010.)
November 9, 2011
Sam Flomo Kolleh, a Liberian national and former member of Sierra Leone’s RUF, concludes his testimony on behalf of Charles Taylor. Mr. Kolleh is the final defense witness.
November 12, 2010
Defense of Charles Taylor formally rests its case.
January 10, 2011
Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor file a motion before the Trial Chamber seeking an investigation into leaked United States Government cables by the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks about Taylor’s trial.
January 14, 2011
Prosecution submits its final trial brief by the court mandated deadline. The defense fails to submit their final brief, claiming the court must decide on outstanding defense motions, including the investigation into United States Government cables, before it can properly submit its final brief.
January 20, 2011
At a Status Conference, the majority of the Trial Chamber held that the order to submit final trial briefs by January 14, 2011 would not be amended due to the fact that the outstanding defense motions were submitted only after the defense formally closed its case.
February 3, 2011
Charles Taylor’s defense file their final trial brief after judges issued their final decision on the outstanding motions which have been filed by the defense.
February 7, 2011
Judges, by majority, reject the defense final brief because it had been filed after the January 14 deadline that was originally ordered by the judges as the day on which parties were to file their final briefs.
February 8, 2011
Prosecution presents its closing arguments. Defense lawyer Courtenay Griffiths leaves the courtroom in the morning after telling the judges that the defense was not prepared to take part in the closing arguments of the trial scheduled to commence. This defense walkout was in response to the rejection of their final trial brief, which was submitted three weeks past the January 14, 2011 deadline.
February 10, 2011
Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone issue an order for Taylor’s defense lawyers to appear in court on February 11, 2011 and make an apology for his walkout on the court on February 8. The order came after the defense refused to take part in closing arguments.
February 11, 2011
Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor appear in court, but instead of apologizing as originally ordered by the judges, Courtenay Griffiths asks for a special hearing where he would be represented by an experienced counsel. The judges grant Griffiths’ request for a special code of conduct hearing. The majority of Trial Chamber judges also grant leave to the defense to file an appeal against the Trial Chamber’s original decision to reject their final brief.
February 25, 2011
Charles Taylor’s defense lawyer appears in court for a code of conduct hearing. The disciplinary hearing could not take place because the Chamber was not duly constituted as one of the judges refused to take part in the hearing.
March 3, 2011
The Appeals Chamber reverses the decision of the Trial Chamber to reject the defense final brief and orders the Trial Chamber to schedule a date and time for Charles Taylor’s defense to make their closing argument.
March 9, 2011
Defense presents its closing arguments.
March 11, 2011
Judges officially closed the trial phase of the case against Charles Taylor after three and a half years. The judges retire to begin deliberations for a final judgment in the Taylor trial.
April 26, 2012
Judgment is announced at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. Taylor is found guilty of aiding and abetting on all 11 charges and for planning attacks in Kono, Makeni, and Freetown.
May 16, 2012
Sentencing hearing is held at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.
May 30, 2012
Judges sentence Taylor to 50 years in prison for the crimes he was found guilty of committing.