Judge Fausto Pocar, President
Mr. Hans Holthuis
7 April 2006
Counsel for the Prosecutor:
Ms. Hildegaard Uertz-Retzlaff
Mr. Daniel Saxon
Mr. Vojislav Seselj
Mr. Tjarda Eduard van der Spoel
1. Vojislav Seselj (“Seselj”) has filed an Appeal before me against a purported “decision” of the Registrar of the International Tribunal of 20 January 2006, refusing his request to have certain persons assigned to him as legal associates to assist in the conduct of his defence.1 In filing this Appeal, Seselj does not identify any specific basis upon which he brings this matter before me, but relies upon the President’s supervisory role over the work of the Registry.2
2. The “decision” of 20 January 2006 is not in fact a decision of the Registrar refusing the assignment of counsel, which would grant Seselj a right to seek a review by me pursuant to Article 13 of the Directive on Assignment of Counsel (“Directive ”).3 Rather, it is a response by the Registry to a submission filed by Seselj requesting the Registry to provide privileged access to persons identified by him as members of his expert team to documents filed in his case, and to allow him to engage in privileged communications with them. The 20 January 2006 response does not refuse Seselj’s request but outlines the procedure that Seselj must follow, and the qualifications that legal associates are required to possess, for the Registry to recognise them as legal associates and grant them the access requested by Seselj. As Seselj himself states in his Appeal “…on 20 January 2006, the Registry did not, in fact, render a decision on the request”.4 Rather, the Registry invited Seselj to nominate up to three persons to serve as legal associates and to provide it with the information it requests in relation to them.
3. While the Registry made no ruling on his request, Seselj complains that the Registry has no basis for requiring that persons that he wishes to have as his legal associates meet the Registry’s requirements, including the requirements of Rule 44 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (“Rules”) for the assignment of counsel. He claims that as a person conducting his own defence, he has “the sole right to decide” 5 who shall be his legal associates and, as such, they are not required to have the qualifications required of defence counsel.6 He argues that as the Rules of the International Tribunal do not govern the assignment of legal associates, the Registry has no legal basis upon which to impose the requirements of the Rules with respect to defence counsel.7
4. In its Response, the Registry states that its requirement that a legal associate satisfy the requirements of Rule 44 “reflects the responsibilities and entitlements of a legal associate to a self-represented accused”. A legal associate, while not granted a right of audience before the court, will be granted other entitlements of counsel, such as privileged access to the accused. Furthermore, the Registry claims that abuse of this entitlement may place into jeopardy the safety of the accused and other detainees in the United Nations Detention Unit (“UNDU”).8 Upon this basis, the Registry argues that it is reasonable to regulate the appointment of legal associates through Rule 44 and to “balance the Accused’s right to legal assistance, against the Tribunal’s obligation to ensure the safety of all persons detained at the UNDU and the security of the UNDU”.9
5. While Seselj is correct to point out that the Rules do not specifically regulate the assignment of legal associates to an accused, the purpose of such associates, as with defence counsel, is to assist an accused in the preparation of his defence. I therefore see no error in the conclusion of the Registry that such associates should satisfy the requirements necessary for appointment as defence counsel under the Rules and the Directive on the Assignment of Defence Counsel.10 Indeed, the requirement of the Registry that legal associates to Seselj meet the requirements of Rule 44 of the Rules is in conformity with a statement of the Trial Chamber in this case that: “The Accused may file a power of attorney under Rule 44(A) if he wishes to have additional assistance from counsel meeting the necessary requirements under that Rule.”11 In its Response, the Registry points out that it was acting in compliance with this statement of the Trial Chamber.12
6. In this case, Seselj has not submitted the relevant material to the Registry in order to ascertain whether those individuals he has identified as necessary to the preparation of his defence do in fact meet the requirements. If Seselj wishes to have Zoran Krasic, Slavko Jerkovic and Alexander Vucic working as his legal associates, then he must supply the Registry with the information it requested in relation to each of them in its Response of 20 January 2006. If Seselj wishes the Registry to assign persons that do not possess the qualifications that the Registry considers necessary, the matter is one that should be brought before the Trial Chamber as the guardian of his right to a fair trial, and not before the President on the basis of his role as a supervisor of the activities of the Registry.
4. For the foregoing reasons, the Appeal is dismissed.
Done in English and French, the English version being authoritative.
Done this 7th day of April 2006,
At The Hague,
Judge Fausto Pocar
[Seal of the International Tribunal]