Arusha, February 6, 2002 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said on Wenesday it had sacked the assigned lawyers of former Rwandan politician and genocide suspect Joseph Nzirorera, after a Registry investigation revealed malpractice. The Registry said its decision was because of "the financial dishonest behaviour of the lead Counsel (Andrew McCartan of Scotland), with the complicity of his legal assistant coupled with the complete breakdown in communication between the Accused and his two Counsels arising partly from this financial dishonesty".

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The February 6th 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". This decision follows an earlier request by Nzirorera, asking that the ICTR replace his assigned lead counsel and assistant because he had lost confidence in them. The ICTR's Trial Chamber Two rejected that request on October 3rd, but ordered an investigation into allegations of fee-splitting. Nzirorera appealed the Trial Chamber decision. On February 1st, the Appeals Chamber dismissed his appeal, but said that: "it will be for the Registrar to inquire speedily into whether there has been such a breakdown in communication, including any reasons for the breakdown, and take appropriate action". It emerged at the time of the October decision that McCartan had agreed to split fees in November 2000, under pressure from Nzirorera. 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 his statement 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. "Untrue and outrageous"McCartan called the Registry's findings "untrue and outrageous", saying that he would appeal the decision. He strongly denied any dishonesty, saying he was being sacked "for calling this man a blackmailer". 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-0206e)