28 Apr 2012

Trinidadian Lawyer Secures Historic Conviction of a former Head of State

unlA ‘Trinidadian’ lawyer - Ula Nathai-Lutchman - played a prominent role in the Prosecution team that secured the historic Judgement against former President Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor, who was indicted while he was still President of Liberia, is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal since the Nuremburg trials in 1946.

The Prosecution case commenced on 4th June 2007 and closed on 27th February 2009 with 94 witnesses called, including supermodel Naomi Campbell and Hollywood actress, Mia Farrow. Known as the ‘Blood Diamonds’ case, it involved extremely complex legal work. The team worked tirelessly seven days per week, for the last four years. They were also one of the smallest to have prosecuted such a complex trial. The case has also established international jurisprudence.

Charles Taylor is the first Head of State at the time he was indicted to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal. Convictions included eleven counts of ‘Acts of Terrorism’ against the people of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Taylor’s conviction for murder acknowledges the thousands who were brutally killed. The judges convicted him on all three counts of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery. Victims were savagely and repeatedly raped, and were then used as sex slaves, handed from owner to owner.

His conviction for physical violence acknowledges the suffering of those victims who were mutilated and maimed. Victims lost not only their limbs, but also the means to support themselves and their families.

The Court convicted Mr. Taylor of conscripting, enlisting or using children under the age of 15 years in hostilities. This robbed these children of their childhood, and the judges have sent a clear message that this will never be tolerated.

The judges convicted Mr. Taylor of enslavement. Men, women and children were taken from their homes and held captive – sometimes for years – at the mercy and whim of their captors.

Mr. Taylor will be sentenced on 30th May 2012. He is expected to serve a lengthy sentence based on previous sentences handed down by the Court.

The full convictions were:

  • Count 1: Acts of terrorism, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(d) of the Statute.
  • Count 2: Murder, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2(a) of the Statute.
  • Count 3: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, inparticular murder, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Statute.
  • Count 4: Rape, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2(g) of the Statute.
  • Count 5: Sexual slavery, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2(g) of the Statute.
  • Count 6: Outrages upon personal dignity, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(e) of the Statute.
  • Count 7: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular cruel treatment, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Statute
  • Count 8: Other inhumane acts, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2(i) of the Statute.
  • Count 9: Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, another serious violation of international humanitarian law pursuant to Article 4(c) of the Statute.
  • Count 10: Enslavement, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2 (c) of the Statute.
  • Count 11: Pillage, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(f) of the Statute.

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