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Defence Counsel Assignments Withdrawn

Tribunal Update 138: Last Week in The Hague (9-15 August 1999)

Quoting Croatian media reports, the Registrar stated that an organisation named "Hrvatski Uznik u Haagu" (Croatian Prisoners in The Hague) had raised a total of 4.3 million German Marks.

Following their surrender to the custody of the Tribunal, the statement says that all the accused informed the Registrar that they did not have sufficient means to pay for legal assistance and requested counsel to be assigned to them.

After examining a declaration of means signed by each of the accused concerned, and additional documentation obtained at the Registry's request, it was determined that they all lacked sufficient means to appoint their own defence teams and so Counsel was duly assigned to each of them.

The privilege of the assignment of Defence council, according to Article 19 of the Tribunal Directive on assignment of Defence Council, ends when information shows accused persons have sufficient means to retain Counsel privately. Invited by the Registrar

to comment, the accused claimed that their financial situation had not substantially changed.

The Registrar disagreed and found that their need for public funds ended at the very latest on 18 June 1999.

Up until this decision, only three Tribunal defendants have covered the cost of their own defence. These are Tihomir Blaskic, Dario Kordic and Anto Furundzija, all of whom are accused of war crimes in Central Bosnia.

It is not yet known whether Vinko Martinovic, as the latest arrival, has yet made any statement about his financial means. All the other detainees have declared themselves in need. Their legal representation costs are therefore met by the Tribunal. Last year's bill for their defence amounted to US$8.3 million.

According to the Directive on the Assignment of Defence Counsel, the remuneration paid to assigned counsel "for any case and at any stage of the procedure" include a fixed rate (US$ 400); fees calculated on the basis of fixed hourly rate (US$ 80-110 depending on professional experience); and a daily allowance as established by the UN Schedule of Daily Subsistence Allowance Rates.

Since the number of hours of work is limited to 175 hours per month, this means that the lead counsel, with 20 or more years' professional experience, can earn US$ 19,250 per month at most. Co-counsel is paid according to the rate applicable for the lawyers with less than 10 years' professional experience: US $ 80 per hour, which means that their maximum monthly wage can amount to US$ 14,000.

In cases when they spend an entire month in The Hague because of Trial, each lawyer then receives a little over US $ 4,000.

The Tribunal also covers the costs for one legal assistant and for two investigators at most. Their fixed hourly rate is from 30 to 50 German Marks, and the number of working hours is limited to 100 to 115 per month.

The Defence counsels of Bosnian Croats, whom the Registrar had taken off its pay-roll, are preparing an appeal to the Tribunal President and claim that "not a single pfenning" of the 4.3 million Germans Marks, allegedly collected for their clients, has reached them.

"We can have a big heart, but, we have to ultimately be paid for our work," Petar Pavkovic's Defence counsel has stated. Should the appeal to McDonald not succeed, despite the "big heart", the defendants' appointed counsel say they would be forced to withdraw their representation.

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