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In Sierra Leone, Rebels Final Arguments Start Today
By Abdul Fonti & Augustine Samba
Sep 2, 2009, 22:00
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The Appeal Chambers of the Special Court for Sierra Leone will this morning commence hearing of the final oral arguments on the appeal of the trial judgment that recently convicted three leaders of the defunct Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Stephen Rapp told newsmen yesterday Tuesday 1st September 2009.At this hearing the Prosecution will present its arguments for rejecting the 96 grounds of appeal that have been filed by the three RUF accused, Sesay, Kallon and Gbao, against the Trial Chambers judgments of conviction entered in February 2009 and the sentences of imprisonment pronounced in April 2009, Stephen Rapp disclosed in his farewell press briefing held at the Wallace Johnson Street conference hall of the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) in Freetown. He explained that the Prosecution would be pursuing three grounds of appeal asking for additional determinations of criminal responsibility.

The Special Court Prosecutor noted that this weeks appeals hearing would mark the last time that attorneys for the Prosecution and Defence would make arguments in the RUF case. When the judges of the Appeals Chamber pronounce their final ruling several weeks from now, all judicial proceedings will be complete, he pointed out, adding that: This is a very significant period in the history of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
On the Charles Taylor trial in The Hague, Stephen Rapp said the accused was presenting a story that was very different from the evidence offered by the Prosecution. We called over 90 witnesses who appeared in person before the Court and testified about the grave crimes committed against tens of thousands of innocent victims in Sierra Leone and provided the linkage evidence showing Taylors responsibility for the commission of these atrocities, he disclosed.

He stated that the prosecutors have been waiting patiently while the accused give what he described as his own contrary version of events and denies all the charges against him. When our turn comes to ask the questions, we will confront Charles Taylor with the full weight of our case, he firmly asserted.  He stated that the legacy of the Special Court in Sierra Leone was an increase in the respect for the rule of law by all individuals, no matter how powerful, and thus contributed to lasting peace and security for the people of Sierra Leone. He used the forum as an opportunity to inform pressmen that he would cease being a Prosecutor for the Special Court on September 7, 2009, in order for him to take up a new appointment in America as Ambassador at large for War Crimes. 

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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