The President Takes a Ruler to the Registry — Again

by Kevin Jon Heller

I am sitting in the Indianapolis airport as I write this, heading home from a conference on the Milosevic trial.  The conference was easily the most enjoyable I’ve ever attended — I vastly prefer small, specialized conferences to mega-events like the AALS or ASIL.  The attendees were a superb mix of academics, former OTP investigators and analysts, and defence attorneys.  I enjoyed their company immensely.

Not surprisingly, I was asked dozens of questions about Dr. Karadzic’s trial.  I couldn’t answer most of them, for obvious reasons, but I can happily report that the President of the ICTY has reversed yet another attempt by the Registry to punish Dr. Karadzic for exercising his right of self-representation, this time concerning funding.  The Registry has consistently sought to undermine Dr. Karadzic’s defense by relying on absurd interpretations of its Remuneration Scheme.  Most recently, it has insisted (1) that the defence team is entitled to only 250 hours of paid legal assistance per month during the adjournment phase (which will end on March 1), despite the fact that the Prosecution has disclosed another 300,000 documents since the beginning of the adjournment; (2) that the defence team is entitled to only 150 hours of paid legal assistance per month during trial, even though that would force Dr. Karadzic to dismiss seven of the eight members of his defence team before trial, leaving him with only one legal associate and no investigators or case managers; and (3) that Peter Robinson would continue to be paid 25 euros per hour, despite the fact that he will have more responsibility once trial begins, because the Trial Chamber has granted him the right to make legal submissions during trial.

To our great relief, the President reversed all three of those funding decisions.  The Registry attempted to defend the adjournment-phase remuneration on the ground that all of the pre-trial work, such as reviewing discovery, should have been concluded before trial began last year — conveniently overlooking the 300,000 documents the Prosecution disclosed after that date.  The President rejected that argument, concluding that “no reasonable person considering these factors could have arrived at the decision that an allocation of 250 hours for the entire defence team per month during the adjournment phase was sufficient in the given circumstances” (para. 39; emphasis mine).

The President was equally dismissive of the Registry’s position on trial-phase funding.  “I do not consider that a reasonable person having properly taken into account the complexity of Karadzic’s case could have arrived at the decision that providing remuneration for one full-time support staff member to assist Karadzic out-of-court is sufficient to enable Karadzic to effectively represent himself during trial, and that departure from the Remuneration Scheme is not warranted.  Rather, in rendering his decision, I am convinced that the Registrar erred” (para. 43).  He thus granted the defense 750 hours of paid legal assistance per month during the trial, enough to allow Dr. Karadzic to have a five-person defence team — the number that a represented defendant is entitled to during trial.

Finally, the President rejected the Registry’s position on Peter’s remuneration, concluding that the Registry’s failure to take into account the Trial Chamber’s desire to have Peter address it on legal issues “was unreasonable and in contravention of the requirement that legal associates must be adequately compensated” (para. 52).  He thus determined that Peter was entitled to 71 euros per hour during the trial — nearly a 300% raise!

You would think that the Registry would feel some shame that the President keeps reversing its decisions on the ground that “no reasonable person” could have agreed with them.  Alas, this Registry — which sees itself as an extension of the Prosecution, despite the fact that it is supposed to be independent — is obviously incapable of feeling shame.  Its motto is simply “convict at all costs.”

Wait, check that.  The Registry’s motto is actually “convict at no cost.”  Kudos to the President for not letting them get away with it.

5 Responses

  1. Ever the cynic…

  2. More and more with each day that I work on this case!

  3. Kind of hard not to be though, you seem to be hitting brick walls every few days.
    Although funnily enough, before I started reading OJ, I was pro-prosecution, and just charge him already…  Now I’m definitely pro-Dr K.  It’s seeming harder and harder for the truth to be realised, while they fuss about such inconsquential things, when they could be focusing on the trial itself.

    I do have one question KJH, I was watching the video on the ICTY website of the holding center at The Hague.
    Once someone has been convicted, are they moved from the holding center to another part of The Hague Complex, or do they stay there?  On a side note, do their conditions change(ie. internet access etc…)?

  4. Hi A,

    I”m actually contractually prohibited from describing the conditions of the UN Detention Center.  But once a defendant is convicted, he is sent to a country that has agreed to imprison ICTY defendants, such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

  5. More and more with each day that I work on this case!
    So is your work on this case changing your opinion about the desirability of international courts, or do you think the problems are limited to this particular Registry of this particular temporal part of the ICTY?

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