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Cablegate: Un/Sierra Leone Special Court: Court President

VZCZCXRO3768
OO RUEHBZ RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUCNDT #0646 2191905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071905Z AUG 07
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2412
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0908
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 8919

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000646

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNSC KJUS KDEM PGOV SL XA
SUBJECT: UN/SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT: COURT PRESIDENT
KING WARNS MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE THAT FURTHER DELAYS IN
COURT PROCEEDINGS ARE LIKELY


1. SUMMARY: Sierra Leone Special Court President Judge
George Galaga King told members of the Special Court
Management Committee via telephone on August 2 that motions
from the defense teams in both the Charles Taylor case and
the AFRC appeal seeking additional time to prepare, if
approved by the judges, will significantly delay overall
progress in completing the Court's work. If such delays
occur because of "unforeseen circumstances," King warned, it
will be up to the Management Committee to raise the
additional voluntary contributions necessary to sustain the
Court beyond the dates envisioned in the completion strategy.
King also reiterated his request for the appointment of an
alternate appeals judge, even though such a proposal would
involve more that 500,000 dollars in additional Court costs.
Concerning Justice Robertson's future role as an appeals
judge even though it appeared likely he would have to be
recused from consideration of appeals in the AFRC, RUF and
Charles Taylor cases, Judge King said he lacked appropriate
authority to make any changes unless the prosecution or
defense requested his removal. USUN received notification
late on August 2 that Special Court Chief Prosecutor Stephen
Rapp filed a motion earlier that same day seeking JustiQ
Robertson's recusal from the AFRC appeal. END SUMMARY.

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DELAYS IN COURT
PROCEEDINGS LIKELY
------------------

2. Court President King, in Atlanta, Georgia on personal
leave, told Management Committee members that newly-appointed
defense attorneys in the Charles Taylor case planned to fire
a motion seeking additional time to familiarize themselves
with the case - a request, that if granted, would further
delay the Taylor trial until January 2, 2008. King also
informed the Committee that the three individuals convicted
and sentenced in the AFRC case plan to file their present
attorneys and seek new legal representation for the appeals
phase of their case. If this occurs, King warned that the
AFRC appeal, originally envisioned to be concluded by January
2008, inevitably would be delayed - perhaps significantly.

JUDGE ROBERTSON
---------------

3. Committee members asked King whether he planned to seek
Justice Robertson's recusal from the AFRC case, since
Robertson's previous critical public pronouncements about the
RUF, and by implication, its close collaboration with the
AFRC, would undermine his perceived impartiality in review of
the AFRC appeal. In addition, Committee members asked King
whether Robertson should be dismissed completely and a new
appeals judge sought since Robertson apparently was unwilling
to reside in Freetown, a requirement King was making of the
other appeals judges. King claimed he was powerless to act
unless the prosecution or defense filed a motion seeking
Robertson's recusal. Then, he and the other judges could
consider finding a replacement for Robertson. Subsequently
on August 2, USUN received notification that Special Court
Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp had filed a motion seeking
Robertson's recusal from the AFRC appeal.

ALTERNATE APPEALS JUDGE
-----------------------

4. King reiterated that he continued to believe in the
importance of having an alternate appeals judge in place to
take over should one of the current appeals judges fall ill
or otherwise be unable to preside in the upcoming appeals
cases. USUN/MR noted that having an alternate appeals judge
available to participate in the three trials in Freetown
(i.e., AFRC, CDF, RUF) would cost in excess of 500,000
dollars at a time when the Special Court was struggling to
identify sufficient funding to continue its operations. UN
Office of Legal Affairs A/SYG Larry Johnson remineded
Committee members that Judge Cassese had suggested in his
late 2006 assessment of the Special Court's efficiency that
it might make more sense to identify an alternate appeals
judge if and when needed. UK representative Simon Thomas
also expressed concerns regarding the cost effectiveness of
appointing an alternate appeals judge for all cases.
Committee members agreed to resume consideration of this
issue at the Committee's next meeting, scheduled for August 7.

KHALILZAD

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