Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Charles "Chucky" Taylor: Trial Starts [UPDATE]

Well, folks, the trial of Charles "Chuckie or Chucky" Taylor(I've seen it both ways), Jr, is soon to be a very popular Google trend. Son of the bloodbath of a president/dictator of Liberia who is on trial in Miami this week for the alleged slaughter of thousands in Liberia, is the first American to be tried here for torture abroad. You can imagine all the flurry the ever conscious American public is over such a landmark event. Charles "Chucky" Taylor, Jr. has now surpassed the beloved Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame on Google Trends. Just barely, if you disregard Kirk's recent spike. (see below)

Chucky, blood red; Kirk Cameron: baby blue

Click thru for the gruesome update.

I kid you not, though, this is no laughing matter. I finally gained access to an attendee of the trials (via law school blogposts) which started Monday, September 29, 2008 (jury selection 9/25/08) and must warn that the testimony is gruesome. Hideous. I will refrain from my usual candidness and get down to parsing out the facts, as grim as they may be. As you know, this is a human rights issue and a torture case. Therefore, the prosecution is going to focus on the testimony of witnesses or "survivors." The defense has attempted to weed out those that are presupposed to anti-military bias in light of the reported events of Guantanamo Bay, those that donated to any human rights organization like Red Cross or Amnesty International, as well as not freeing Mr. Taylor should he not testify in his defense.

Following the jury selection, the defense had nothing to do except for wait as the prosecution called the first in a line of witnesses. The first witness of the afternoon was the government agent that was to Gbtala Base or "College of Knowledge" (see previous post for further explanation). Not much transpired. Defense made it apparent that the said training and torture camp was open to public and all witnessed rooms, devices and whatnot could have came after defendant fled the premises.

The next was "
Witness Number One" and testified to this:
"The alleged victim was next untied, stripped down naked and put into a cemented hole about five feet deep. The hole was covered with steel bars. He could not stand in the hole because there were other people in there. Instead most were squatting with water up to their chests. The name of this hole was waterfall. He received no medical attention for the two weeks he was in the hole. They were sometimes given rice to eat and water to drink. Otherwise, they would drink the water inside the hole. Men were let out of the hole to defecate, but urinated in the water inside the hole. He spent time in two other holes: one with less water and another that was clean and completely dry. He stated that he spent from August 23 to October 20 in these holes, completely naked the entire time. This was the end of the testimony for the day."
Following testimony, Judge Altonaga raised issue with "a language difficulty." She said Witness Number One was only understandable 50 percent of the time and scolded both sides for not having resolved the issue of a translator sooner. Prosecution took this opportunity to inform judge that "they tried but all translators feared for their lives."

This sounds a little fishy to me, I think it was a pity tactic that blew up in their face, but we'll see.

The next day, September 30, 2008, they called "Witness Number 5," he testified to this:
"Victim #5 described how he was kept in a pit/hole naked for the majority of his stay at the Gbatala ATU camp. He then described how he was forced by Chuckie Taylor and the ATU soldiers to engage in activities such as running the rim (holding a large log while running in circle while the log was hit with metal sticks, causing pain), stone football (playing the American football game with a stone while barefoot), forced sodomy, cutting the camp grass naked, having hot burning plastic placed on his skin, drinking his own urine, eating cigarette butts, and having wild stinging ants thrown into his pit/hole."
Stone Football...damn. There was also a discussion of a torture technique called "bullfrogging" which makes waterboarding sound tame. I still do not know what it involves.

He stated his purpose for testifying is to show the world what happened to him and not for private civil gain. The defense pointed out that he has been represented by a Human Rights USA lawyer since 2007.

In the afternoon, more witnesses were produced testifying to many of the same things. The government did seek to introduce a series of newspaper articles to the jury and the judge ruled that it was ok as long as:
"...the newspaper articles text were fully blacked out and the article titles were redacted only leaving the name of the base to be seen in the title."
Or, YOU CAN'T SEE ANY SHIT THAT IS RELEVANT. I don't know folks, Chuckie may be seeing Death Row over this, but I doubt it will be an electric chair. I predict a producer's chair. Right next to Ice Cube... (hear Chucky's debut rap track here)


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