The Registrar Withdraws Assignment of Defence Counsel to seven Accused: The Accused are no longer Indigent after Fundraising.
On 6 August 1999, the Registrar of the Tribunal decided to withdraw the assignment of Counsel to Mario Cerkez, Drago Josipovic, Mirjan Kupreskic, Vlatko Kupreskic, Zoran Kupreskic, Dragan Papic and Vladimir Santic in light of the financial support which they are presumed to have received from an organisation named "Hrvatski Uznik u Haagu" ("Croatian Prisoners in The Hague").
According to media reports, at the beginning of this year and on 18 June 1999 "Hrvatski Uznik u Haagu" raised funds for the detainees, particularly through an auction of art works held in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, totalling an estimated DM 4,300,000.
During the auction of 18 June 1999, a letter signed by the accused was read out in which they expressed their gratitude for the support lent to them.
Following their surrender to the custody of the International Tribunal, all accused informed the Registrar that they did not have sufficient means to pay for legal assistance and requested her to assign Counsel to them. After examining a declaration of means signed by each of the accused concerned and additional documentation obtained at the Registry’s request, it was determined that they all lacked sufficient means to retain Counsel, and accordingly Counsel was assigned to each of them.
Pursuant to Article 19 of the Directive on the Assignment of Defence Counsel, the privilege of the assignment of Defence Counsel ends when information obtained shows that the accused persons have sufficient means to retain Counsel privately.
Invited by the Registrar to comment, the accused claimed that their financial situation has not substantially changed since the recent events. However, the Registrar considered beyond reasonable doubt that a considerable sum of money has been made available to the accused and that in consequence their state of indigence ended at the very latest on 18 June 1999.
After the notification of the withdrawal of the assignment of Counsel, all the costs and expenses incurred by the representation of the accused shall cease to be met by the Tribunal.