Arusha, 7 September 2007 (FH) - The cost of activities related to the defence of accused before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is almost 21 million US dollars for the period of 2005-2007, that is to say 8,4 % of the tribunal's budget for that period, it was learned from an official source at the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.   

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The ICTR budget for this period was superior to 250 million dollars. The office of the prosecutor, who represents the prosecution, costs, for their part, 60 million dollars (24%).
The fees and operating expenses of the defence teams of the ICTR are paid from the budget of the tribunal, in the framework of legal aid, the defendants have been all considered, up to date, as being indigent.
"The indigence is determined in regards to the results of investigations on the means available to the defendants", explained last week in Kigali, the registrar of the ICTR, Senegalese Adama Dieng.
"It is not enough to know that a defendant had real estate in the past or other goods in Rwanda to disqualify them from indigence. The key question that must be asked is to know if the person has resources that they can use at their will and if these resources are sufficient to face the inherent expenses of the trial ", he explained, in this speech made in front of lawyers of the Kigali bar.
If the principle is of a lawyer per person, "the defendant can moreover profit from the services of a second lawyer, the co-counsel, if the workload requires it, and according to the complexity of the case", the speech continued.
"The main counsel remains, in any assumption, only responsible for the defence strategy", underlined Dieng, in this speech, specifying that "the defence team also includes legal assistants and investigators, up to three persons".
The registry, the department in charge of the administrative and financial management of the institution, pays honorary fees to counsels and assistants according to pre-established scales and it refunds expenses incur by the team, within a reasonable limit. This expenditure must be justified and, in certain cases, be authorized beforehand, particularly for missions. Likewise, members of the defence team must justify hours billed, within the limit of a variable monthly cap according to the function of the person concerned and the trial phase.
"Certain defence counsels have criticized this procedure, asserting that the obligation to specify the nature of the accomplished tasks goes against the fundamental principle of confidentiality between the counsel and their client", remarks Dieng. A criticism that the ICTR registrar rejects. According to him, "the justification of hours worked does not imply a description of the defence strategy".
Dieng recognizes nevertheless that "the system can be improved, by reducing the requirement of justification of hours worked while allowing a better control of the amounts paid".
"The registry has, in fact, introduced a global payment and contractual system to lawyers, according to the phase of the proceedings and the type of steps under consideration in the case", the text indicates.
"Global and contractual payment is particularly appropriate for single defendant trials (in comparison to group trials) and it allows for appreciable savings, in particular in the event of guilty pleas or in the preliminary phase of the trial", the ICTR registrar is pleased to say.
The ICTR, to which the Security Council has giving until the end of next year to finish its first instance trials, has delivered, up to date, 28 convictions and 5 acquittals.

© Hirondelle News Agency