When Is a Trial Not a Trial? When the Registry Says So
Another day, another attempt by the Registry to undermine the fairness of Dr. Karadzic’s trial. Rule 3.3 of the Registry’s Remuneration Scheme for Persons Assisting Indigent Self-Represented Accused provides that a self-representing defendant’s legal team is entitled to be paid for “a maximum of 150 out-of-court preparation hours… per month for the duration of the trial.” Dr. Karadzic’s legal team thus expects to be paid for the approximately 600 hours it will spend on trial preparation between October 27, when the trial began, and March 1. After all, it’s obvious that trial has begun: the prosecution has given its opening statement; both the Trial Chamber and the prosecution have announced that trial has commenced; and the Registrar himself has directed that all new pleadings be labeled “T” (for “trial”) instead of “PT” (for “pre-trial”). No problem, right?
Wrong. The Registry’s Office of Legal Aid and Detention has unilaterally determined that, despite the above, the trial has not actually started and thus Dr. Karadzic’s defence team is not entitled to be paid for the 600 hours. And it has also refused to pay for a significant portion of the defence team’s pre-trial work — nearly half — which means that the 600 hours cannot be paid as pre-trial work, either. The upshot: according to the Registry, the defence team is expected to work for free between now and March 1.
This decision is, quite simply, a joke. Recall that, because the Registry insists that highly-qualified legal associates cannot be paid more than support staff such as translators and secretaries, Dr. Karadzic’s legal associates are paid a maximum of 25 euros/hour. So we are talking literally 15,000 euros in fees. That money means nothing to the Tribunal, which has happily accepted billions of dollars in funding from the UN, but it is obviously of critical importance to the defence team’s ability to help Dr. Karadzic prepare for trial.
I’ll say it again: the Registry could not care less about whether Dr. Karadzic receives a fair trial. If it can help the prosecution secure a conviction by crippling Dr. Karadzic’s defence team, it is more than happy to do so.