LORD LLOYD-JONES: (with whom Lady Hale, Lord Wilson and Lord
Hodge agree)
The appellant, TRA, who was arrested in the United Kingdom on 1 June
2017, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit torture (count 1) and seven
counts of torture (counts 2-8). The substantive offence alleged in each case is that
of torture contrary to section 134, Criminal Justice Act 1988 (“CJA”). The charges
relate to events in Liberia in 1990, in the early stages of the first Liberian civil war,
when an armed group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (“NPFL”), sought to
take control of the country and to depose the then President, Samuel Doe. The leader
of the NPFL was Charles Taylor REDACTED. The NPFL eventually succeeded in
taking control of Liberia and Charles Taylor became President in 1997.
This is an appeal pursuant to section 36, Criminal Procedure and
Investigations Act 1996 (“CPIA”) and section 33(1), Criminal Appeal Act 1968. It
arises out of a ruling on a question of law made within a preparatory hearing under
section 32(3) CPIA which was amalgamated into a decision on an application for
dismissal under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Schedule 3 paragraph 2(2). The
Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal (Lord Burnett CJ, Popplewell and Whipple
JJ) has certified the following point of law of general public importance:
“What is the correct interpretation of the term ‘person acting in
an official capacity’ in section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice
Act 1988; in particular does it include someone who acts
otherwise than in a private and individual capacity for or on
behalf of an organisation or body which exercises or purports
to exercise the functions of government over the civilian
population in the territory which it controls and in which the
relevant conduct occurs?”
The prosecution case


The prosecution maintains that at the time and place of the alleged offences,
the NPFL was the de facto military government or government authority and that
Charles Taylor and those acting for and with him, including the appellant, were
acting in an official capacity for, and on behalf of, the NPFL and had effective
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