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"Special Court is Not Broke"---Andersen

7 August 2005 at 07:47 | 439 views

The Deputy Chief of Press and Public Affairs of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Peter Andersen, was recently interviewed by Vanguard editor Gibril Gbanabome Koroma. Excerpts:

The Deputy Chief of Press and Public Affairs of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Peter Andersen, told the Patriotic Vanguard that there are ’strong indications’ from donors that funds will be available to carry out the Court’s mandate, thus dispelling speculations that the Court is broke.

Andersen, in an exclusive interview with this paper emphasised that as far as the Court is concerned, ’money is not a grave concern’. Explaining the financial background of the Court, Andersen said when it was first set up, it was the decision of the Security Council that it should be funded by voluntary contributions by UN member states. Secretary General Kofi Annan, he added, reluctantly agreed to that arrangement but he (Annan) stipulated that money for the first three years of the Court’s operations should be in the bank. "When this proved unworkable, he agreed that the Court should go ahead with one year’s worth of cash on hand", Andersen explained.

The deputy spokesman pointed out that the Court experienced a shortfall of funds in the second year of its operation which he said was resolved when what he described as some ’large donors’ redeemed their third year pledges in the second year. "The resulting third year shortfall was made up by a UN subvention grant, which carries through until the end of this year".

After 2005, he continued, the Court will again be relying on voluntary contributions from UN states.In addition, it will rely on ’large institutions’ to assist. "We have had strong indications from donors that the funds will be available and running out of money is not a grave concern", Andersen said.

Reacting to comments by some people that the Court has lost its relevance because of its failure to arrest and bring to justice some key indictees like Charles Taylor and Johnny Paul Koroma, the deputy spokesman observed that the relevance of the Special Court to Sierra Leoneans is, "first, how well we do our work, and second, how that work contributes to the restoration of the rule of law and an end to impunity". He added that it is very important for Charles Taylor to answer to the charges against him before the Court and ’we are looking to the international community to help assure that happens.We dont know whether Johnny Paul Koroma is even alive.If he turns up we will do our best to make sure that he is arrested and transferred to the custody of the Court".

Asked what would be the legal implications for the Court if indicted CDF leader Hinga Norman is elected SLPP leader at that party’s next convention scheduled for next month, Andersen said if such a thing happens it would have no legal implications for the Court because "the Court is required to carry out the law as spelled out in its mandate".He also said the rules of detention of the Court do not allow any detainee, including Norman, to be released from custody for any purpose.

It will be recalled that Chief Hinga Norman, a former SLPP Interior minister and Deputy Defence minister recently announced from his cell where he is being detained by the Special Court for alleged crimes against humanity that he would like to contest for the leadership of the SLPP ahead of the 2007 elections. He asked the Court to allow him to hold a meeting at SLPP headquarters in Freetown to declare his candidacy.Due to the refusal of the Court to allow him to leave his cell, Norman has now postponed his declaration meeting originally scheduled for Sunday July 31.

Asked whether the Court has absolute proof that notorious RUF battlefield commander Sam Bockarie, alias Mosquito, is dead, Andersen said Bockarie’s body was turned over to Court investigators in June 2003 and that while no DNA comparison was available because no relative of Bockarie could be found, what he called ’witnesses’ identified the body. "The prosecutor was convinced that this was, in fact, Bockarie and so in December 2003 withdrew the indictment against him", Andersen said.

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