Judge Sow’s Shocking Interview with the New African Magazine
I’ve written before about Judge Sow’s attempt to make a statement in open court criticizing Charles Taylor’s conviction. Now Judge Sow has given a lengthy interview to the New African magazine concerning the trial, his attempt to make the statement, and his punishment afterward. As Bill Schabas points out today, “[n]othing comparable has ever appeared in the history of international criminal justice.” Judge Sow doesn’t mince words; he believes that the prosecution completely failed to prove Taylor’s guilt. Here is a sample:
What I said about the system is that international justice cannot cope and put up with the very low standard of proof applied in this case. International justice cannot be based on rumours. These are mass crimes. This is where we must have the highest standard of proof. It’s about proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. But they didn’t even reach the lowest standard of proof.
Most importantly, the accused came with very official papers, with witnesses who were at the frontline, witnesses who were main actors of this whole conflict. How can you compare these witnesses with those people who didn’t get even close to the scene? The prosecution’s case by itself is so insufficient, so unreliable. It’s about people contradicting themselves, people denying what they had said in previous statements.
The entire interview is well worth a read, and it paints a damning portrait of the Taylor case. I would note, though, that Judge Sow makes clear in the interview that the judges in the case did meet to deliberate about Taylor’s guilt; Judge Sow simply believes that their deliberations were inadequate — and that he was wrongly excluded from them. Those statements back up my earlier argument that the defence should not be permitted to call Judge Sow to testify in support of Taylor’s appeal.