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Hague Finances Defence for Most War Crimes Suspects

29. March 2013.00:00
The Hague Tribunal has wholly or partly paid for the defence of most of the suspects tried for wartime violations, but cannot reveal the amount of money actually spent.

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The Tribunal pays up to 20,000 euro monthly for the chief defender and co-defender during trials, and has wholly or partially funded the defence for 120 of the 133 suspects tried in The Hague so far, a court spokesperson told BIRN.

“Of 133 accused, the expenses of 81 were fully covered, while 39 of them were partially covered,” said Magdalena Spalinska, spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

But she said she could not divulge information about the total expenditure on suspects’ defence teams.

Spalinska explained that the procedure for making a decision on legal assistance was very detailed and demanded a comprehensive analysis of the defendant’s property.

“It’s up to the defendant who seeks legal assistance to prove he is of poor wealth. He is the one who has to submit to the secretariat of the Hague Tribunal detailed information on his revenue, such as direct income, bank accounts, chattel and real estate,” she said.

After that, added Spalinska, the secretariat conducts an investigation and assesses the defendant’s income. If it is established that he or she is completely or partially impoverished, the court covers the defence expenses.

One defendants whose defence expenses will be partially covered is former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir, who was sentenced to a life imprisonment for genocide and other crimes, and will have to pay for expenses of around 17,000 euro.

The Tribunal’s secretariat has also decided that both Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, on trial for genocide and other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also have to pay for part of their defence expenses.

The secretariat’s investigation showed that Karadzic’s family possesses belongings and property, and it was decided in 2011 that he has to pay 140,000 euro of the defence’s expenses.

The secretariat also established that the value of Mladic’s property exceeds his needs, although one of the former Bosnian Serb commander’s lawyers, Miodrag Stojanovic, argued that his client only owns a modest apartment of 105 square metres.

“According to the Hague Tribunal’s standards, Mladic has to have at least 25 square metres per member of the household. Since Mladic lives only with his wife, he has surplus of 55 square metres, according to the assessment,” said Stojanovic.

Stojanovic explained that the total amount spent on defence depends on the complexity of the case.

“During trial, the defender and co-defender get equal fees regardless of the complexity of the case. The chief defender gets around 11,000 euro monthly and co-defender 8,000 euro until the end of the trial,” he said.

In the most complex cases, according to Stojanovic, the Tribunal pays another 12,000 euro for staff including investigators, translators and legal consultants.

Marija Taušan

This post is also available in: Bosnian