IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
Judge Richard May, Presiding
Judge Mohamed Bennouna
Judge Patrick Robinson
Mrs. Dorothee de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh
3 September 1999
DECISION ON THE REGISTRARS WITHDRAWAL OF THE
ASSIGNMENT OF DEFENCE COUNSEL
The Office of the Prosecutor
Mr. Geoffrey Nice
Ms. Susan Somers
Mr. Patrick Lopez-Terres
Mr. Kenneth Scott
Counsel for the Accused
Mr. Mitko Naumovski, Mr. Turner Smith Jr., Mr. Ksenija Turkovic, Mr. Rober A. Stein,
Mr. Stephen M. Sayers, Mr. David F. Geneson, and Mr. Leo Andreis, for Dario Kordic
Mr. Bozadir Kovacic and Mr. Goran Mikulicic for Mario Cerkez
1. The Registrar has withdrawn the assignment of Defence counsel for the accused Mario Cerkez by a decision filed 10 August 1999, on the basis of having obtained information from the media that the accused was receiving substantial financial support for his legal representation from a Croatian support group called "Hrvatski uznik u Hagu", which auctions paintings and works of art and was said to have received DM 4, 300, 000 from such auctions, and that the accused was thus able to finance his own representation for the purposes of Article 19 (A) of the Directive on Assignment of Defence Counsel ("the Directive").
2. The accused has filed a motion before the Trial Chamber against this withdrawal under Article 19 (D) of the Directive based on the grounds
3. The Trial Chamber notes that in a decision on similar matters in Kupreskic et al. on 3 September 1999, Trial Chamber II of the International Tribunal has found that a Trial Chamber has "jurisdiction to hear the objections under Articles 19 (D) and 13 (C) of the Directive" on the ground that "if after the initial appearance it is for the Trial Chamber to decide the issue of assignment of counsel on a preliminary motion, then the same must apply in the later stages of the proceedings".
4. The Trial Chamber finds that there was insufficient evidence for the Registrar to take the drastic step of reversing the accuseds status of indigency and removing the assignment of his defence counsel in the middle of the trial. As noted by Trial Chamber II in Kupreskic et al., "SmCedia reports may serve as a first step to launch an investigation into the veracity of the reported facts. That newspapers and other kinds of media are very often a highly unreliable source of information is common knowledge. Their reports, unsubstantiated by other material, cannot by themselves be sufficient evidence for a court of law". In the view of this Trial Chamber, if media reports gave rise to doubt about the income of the accused, the matter should have been investigated further before any possible finding could be made.
For those reasons the Trial Chamber
REVERSES the decisions of the Registrar of 10 August 1999 with respect to the accused Mario Cerkez and
ORDERS that the assignment of Defence counsel shall continue without interruption with regard to the accused Mario Cerkez.
Done in English and French, the English text being authoritative.
Dated this third day of September 1999
At The Hague
[Seal of the Tribunal]