Arusha, February 6, 2002 (FH) - Sacked Rwanda Tribunal lawyer Andrew McCartan of Scotland on Wednesday denied accusations of financial dishonesty and said he was being sanctioned for having blown the whistle on fee-splitting. McCartan was reacting to a decision of the ICTR Registry to sack the defence team of former Rwandan politician Joseph Nzirorera over a breakdown in communication with their client and "the financial dishonest behaviour of the lead Counsel".

1 min 31Approximate reading time

The decision said a Registry investigation had revealed that "the Lead Counsel, in the particular instance, has inflated his bills of October and November 2000, and did provide his Legal Assistant with pre-signed blank forms for submission and reimbursement of expenses". The row between McCartan and his client erupted late last year, when it was revealed that McCartan had agreed to split fees with Nzirorera in November 2000, under pressure from his client. He said he agreed, pending further inquiries about ICTR practice and having asked the advice of his Bar. Six months later he decided to inform the head of the ICTR Registry's section in charge of lawyers and detainees, Alessandro Caldarone of Italy. McCartan's September 19th letter says: "I agreed to the accused's demand for payment because I wanted to give myself time to investigate hisstatement that this was the 'normal procedure' for lead Counsel. I also wanted to confirm that the Rules prohibited such fee splitting conduct. "Nzirorera denies he ever concluded a fee-splitting agreement with Counsel. McCartan expressed shock at the decision and said he would appeal. "I am being sacked for calling this man (Nzirorera) a blackmailer," he told Hirondelle. The ICTR decision has also been notified to the President of the Law Society of Scotland and the President of the Law Society of Brussels. Nzirorera's sacked co-counsel is Martin Bauwens of Belgium. A report by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) released early 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). It recommended further investigation of the matter. Shortly after taking office in March last year, new ICTR Registrar Adama Dieng of Senegal promised to take any necessary measures "to protect the integrity of the Tribunal's judicial process". In July he sacked four defence investigators on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 genocide, but subsequently had to reinstate one of them because of mistaken identity. JC/FH (NI-0206f)