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Sierra Leone Court Questions on Blacked Out Purported Dissent and on Restitution

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 9 -- After the UN Security Council heard a briefing Tuesday about the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Inner City Press asked the Court's President, Registrar and Prosecutor why no forfeiture of Charles Taylor's assets had even been sought, and how the purported dissent of Alternate Judge El Hadji Malick Sow was being handled. Video here, from Minute 57:38.

   Back on April 26, 2012 after the Taylor judgment was read out by Presiding Judge Richard Lussick, Alternate Judge Malick Sow began to declaim what he called a dissent, stating in part that there has been "no... deliberations."

   But the microphone was turned off, the spectators' view then blocked.

   Inner City Press asked the panel on Tuesday if some formal inquiry would be made into what he had alleged.

   The Court's President, Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, told Inner City Press that since she is "sitting on the case, so there is no way I can speak to them" - the issues raised by Alternate Judge Malick Sow or why no forfeiture was sought.

   The Court's Registrar Binta Mansaray told Inner City Press, "I can speak in a limited fashion. As far as Taylor funds are concerned, efforts have been made to track those funds. In terms of the dissent by the alternate judge, I won't comment, because that is going to be a part of the defense appeal. But I would like to put on record, there is a right to dissent, if they have the right of dissent or concurring."

   Inner City Press thanked the Registrar, but followed up about Alternate Judge Malick Sow's statement that the judges on the case had not engaged in any, or any substantial, deliberations.

    The Court's prosecutor Brenda Hollis began to answer. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky said, "I think it's been made clear, it is a continuing case, I think you understand that given your own legal training."

   When Prosecutor Hollis answered Inner City Press' restitution question, she said "on forfeiture, it was my office that looked carefully at it, in our court and in the other international ad hoc courts, you have to tie the asset or property back to what was taken, or the proceeds, we were unable to make that evidentiary link... There is a UN panel of experts on asset freeze since 2000, they have been unable with all the powers the UN has to trace those assets. There are some reparations scheme you don't have to make that link. With us, you had to make that link."

  Regarding the transcript or transcripts of what Alternate Judge Malick Sow said, Prosecutor Hollis argued, "you have the word no then the symbol for a missing word, and we don't know what it is."

  But is that any way to run a court, or the reading of a judgment like that of Charles Taylor? When might Alternate Judge Malick Sow take questions on this? Watch this site.

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