Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Civil Trial Against Charles Taylor, Jr.: Day 1 (cont'd)

Our civil trial began today after we addressed several preliminary matters raised by Defendant Taylor. With assistance from the Public Defenders in his criminal case, Defendant Taylor moved to vacate the default judgment entered last May and postpone the trial. After ensuring that Defendant Taylor understood his requests and his rights, the judge denied Defendant Taylor's motion to postpone the trial. The judge then granted our request to have two of our clients who were not able to travel to the United States testify by video conference. (The first such testimony should take place Tuesday.)

Then, after the Court certified an interpreter to assist with testimony (Liberian English differs from American English), the trial got underway with testimony from our first witness. His testimony addressed the physical abuse he endured at the hands of Defendant Taylor and his ATU soldiers. This witness also testified about the lasting physical, emotional, and financial impact he still suffers today.

We will update you on the trial's progress tomorrow. In the meantime, our clients are adjusting to the new time zone and two tried their first hamburger (and liked it!) last night. We have discovered that habenero peppers are nearly hot enough to substitute for Liberian pepper in cooking. And, miraculously to those of us who cannot cook, one client was able to make perfect rice in the small frying pan provided in the kitchenettes of the hotel where we are staying.

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