Arusha, March 13, 2002 (FH) - A UN report into allegations of corruption and fee splitting between detainees and defence lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was released on Monday in New York. The report, a follow up to a similar one issued in February 2001, says the legal system at both UN tribunals continues to be abused.

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Almost all suspects at both tribunals rely on legal aid funds from the tribunals to pay for their defence, claiming they are indigent. The report by the UN watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), says some detainees at the ICTR solicit between US $2,500 to $5,000 per month from their defence teams. The report says that these detainees make such fee-splitting arrangements a condition for any lawyer interested in being chosen for their defence team. Each detainee selects three names of lawyers from a pool of about 200 kept by the ICTR. The ICTR registry then picks one of the three. ICTR defence lawyers receive between US$80 and US$110 per hour in legal fees, and can claim up to 175 hours per month. The earlier report by the UN's OIOS, released last year, found evidence of possible fee-splitting arrangements between defence lawyers and indigent accused at both the ICTR and International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In February this year, lawyers assigned to former Rwandan politician and genocide suspect Joseph Nzirorera, were sacked after a Registry investigation revealed malpractice. The investigation was ordered after allegations surfaced of fee-splitting arrangements between the lawyers and their clients. Shortly after taking office in March 2001, new ICTR Registrar Adama Dieng of Senegal promised to take any necessary measures "to protect the integrity of the Tribunal's judicial process". GG/JA/FH (RE-0313e)