A member of the defense team of former President Charles Taylor and four others charged with contempt of court for attempting to bribe prosecution witnesses are expected to make their first appearances in court this Friday.
Mr. Eric Senessie, an investigator of Mr. Taylor Defense team, charged on nine counts of attempting to induce Prosecution witnesses is expected to appear before Justice Teresa Doherty at 12: PM on Friday.
The contempt proceedings relates to allegations that persons acting on behalf of Mr. Taylor defense attempted to bribe several prosecution witnesses, including those with protective measures for them to recant their evidence against the him (Taylor).
The four others Hassan Papa Bangura, aka “Bomblast” and Samuel Kargbo, aka “Sammy Ragga”, are ordered to appear before Justice Teresa Doherty at 9:00 a.m., while convicted former Armed Forces Revolutionary Front (AFRC) leaders Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu, aka “Five-Five”, are ordered to participate in the proceedings by video link from Rwanda.
The four are charged with two counts of attempting to bribe a witness to recant testimony given in the AFRC trial. Kamara faces an additional count of disclosing the name of a protected witness “in knowing violation of an order of a Chamber”.
A UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone release issued recently says the Court’s Defence Office has assisted the Accused in securing legal representation. If convicted of contempt under Rule 77 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Accused could face a prison sentence of up to seven years.
It all started on February 25 2011, when prosecutors filed a motion in which they alleged that former investigator for Mr. Taylor’s defense team, Prince Taylor and Eric Senesie, a former member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the rebel group which Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly supporting, attempted to bribe prosecution witnesses, including protected witnesses who had testified against Mr. Taylor for them to recant their testimonies against the accused.
The Trial Chamber judges granted the Prosecution’s request and directed the Registrar of the Court to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether the allegations were true. The Registrar appointed William L. Gardner as independent counsel on March 18, 2011.
On April 21 2011, the independent counsel submitted a report of his findings in which he concluded that while there was insufficient evidence to proceed in contempt against Mr. Prince Taylor, “there are sufficient grounds to proceed against Eric Senessie for contempt of Court.”
The Trial Chamber therefore ordered that an “Order in lieu of Indictment” be issued against Mr. Senessie and directed the independent counsel to prosecute Mr. Senessie pursuant to said indictment.
In the said indictment, Mr. Senessie is alleged to have offered bribes to Prosecution witnesses Mohamed Kabbah, Dauda Aruna Fornie, protected witnesses TF1-516, TF1-585 and Aruna Gbonda all of whom testified against Mr. Taylor in The Hague. It is alleged that Mr. Senessie tried to influence these witnesses to recant their testimonies against Mr. Taylor.