Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Courtside: Krajisnik Case

Tribunal judges refuse Krajisnik appeal to be allowed home pending his trial.
By Chris Stephen

The Hague tribunal last week refused a request for the provisional of former Bosnian Serb president Momcilo Krajisnik, despite guarantees from three separate governments that the indictee would not abscond.


It was the sixth time Krajisnik has made the request. Yugoslavia, its main republic, Serbia, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, Republica Srpska, all testified that they would ensure he returns to Holland to face trial.


Judges also refused his defence team more money disclosing that, even before the case has come to trial, The Hague has already paid the defence 885,750 US dollars for costs from his arrest in April 2000 until April 2002.


This figure is higher than the average cost for defence teams, which is 25,000 dollars per month.


The only exception is Milosevic, who has refused a defence team, as he does not recognise the court. Instead, the court has appointed three legal advisors Amicus Curiae or friends of the court, to advise the court on the rights of the defendant.


Their monthly cost was more than 70,000 dollars per month for the first eight months of his trial, but dropped to 45,000 dollars per month from July onwards.


The legal aid bill so far for tribunal defendants is 13 million dollars for the year so far.


Krajisnik’s lawyers said they needed at least another 100,000 dollars to pay for two more legal advisors, a case manager and supporting staff to provide competent representation and a fair trial.


Cash is a thorny issue with the tribunal: war crimes trials are hugely expensive, involving lengthy interviews with batteries of witnesses and soaring legal costs.


Tribunal judges stated that the guarantee given by Republica Srpska must be treated with caution because the government has never arrested anyone indicted for war crimes by The Hague.


And they said the Serbian guarantee is also flawed because someone forgot to ask Prime Minister Zoran Djindic to sign the request.


Judges were more positive about the Yugoslav guarantee, which comes following Belgrade’s adoption of a law on cooperation with the tribunal. But the appeals judges said they were unsure whether the authorities there would be able to find Krajisnik if he absconded.


Krajisnik, once a leading member of the Republika Srpska leadership, is charged with crimes including genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in ethnic cleansing, concentration camps and the bombardment of Sarajevo.


Krajisnik’s two defence lawyers are American with Serb family connections - Deyan Brashich and Nikola Kostich. They submitted an alternative motion asking that, if funds were not granted, the case be dismissed as there was not enough money to allow Krajisnik to defend himself adequately.


Chris Stephen is IWPR bureau chief in The Hague.