At the conclusion of the delivery of the oral Charles Taylor Judgment yesterday 26 April, Alternate Judge Malick Sow of Senegal attempted to voice his dissenting opinion. As an Alternate Judge he does not have a vote, nor a right to dissent, but sought to publicly state his concerns that the evidence against Mr. Taylor did not reach the threshold necessary for conviction. As Justice Lussick, Justice Doherty and Justice Sebutinde rose and prepared to leave the court at the conclusion of the verdict, Justice Sow said:
“The only moment where a Judge can express his opinion is during deliberations or in the courtroom, and pursuant to the Rules, when there is no deliberations, the only place left for me in the courtroom. I won’t get — because I think we have been sitting for too long but for me I have my dissenting opinion and I disagree with the findings and conclusions of the other Judges, because for me under any mode of liability, under any accepted standard of proof the guilt of the accused from the evidence provided in this trial is not proved beyond reasonable doubt by the Prosecution. And my only worry is that the whole system is not consistent with all the principles we know and love, and the system is not consistent with all the values of international criminal justice, and I’m afraid the whole system is under grave danger of just losing all credibility, and I’m afraid this whole thing is headed for failure. Thank you for your attention.”
As Justice Sow made this statement, the other three Judges walked out of the room, while the court technicians cut off an in-house video feed to reporters, turned off the Judge’s microphone and closed the public gallery.
Mr. Taylor’s Lead Defence Counsel Courtenay Griffiths Q.C. expressed his concern as to the SCSL’s treatment of Judge Sow, later quoting from the Judge’s speech at a press conference.