Ex-SCSL prosecutor: There was a perception of imbalance

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Friday, December 19, 2014 - 13:18

By Sophie van Leeuwen

More money for the prosecutor, less money for the defence. How disproportional is the 2015 ICC budget? The former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), David Crane, responds to lawyer Nick Kaufman who called the budget "totally unacceptable". 

Sophie van Leeuwen

Q: How much did you pay for the defence in the SCSL?  

A: "The SCSL began its work in 2002. We indicted and arrested most of the defendants by March 2003. Each was afforded an attorney as appropriate under our rules of procedure and evidence. These counsels were paid for by the Registrar of the SCSL. 

"About a year and a half later, in mid-2003, SCSL registrar Robert Vincent created an office of Principle Defender, designed to administratively support the various defence teams and ensuring they had adequate support to defend their clients. I publicly supported this effort.  It was a “first-ever” initiative.

"At other tribunals - the Yugoslav tribunal or the Rwandan tribunal - defence teams were largely on their own. No investigation support, no office support. We thought a proper defence office was needed at the SCSL."  

Q: What problems did you have?

A: "Most of the accused at the SCSL declared they were not capable of paying for a defence lawyer. There was a perception of imbalance. So we needed to change this perception, as these are courts of law and they must be fair.

"The SCSL was the first international court that had an office to administratively support defence teams. All defendants indicted by me in the Special Court of Sierra Leone were supported by the Office of the Principle Defender. This step was largely a success thanks to Registrar Vincent."

Q: Is there an imbalance at the ICC?

A: "Though I cannot speak to the reasons for the decrease in funds, the Court needs to be aware that there is perhaps a perception of inequality. They should be able and willing to explain to the public what is going on."

Q: Your answer to defence lawyer Nick Kaufman?

A: "Defence councils have real challenges and need proper support. During my time at the SCSL, the defense counsel and I raised the inequality of arms issue. The creation of the Office of the Principle Defence largely resolved this issue. 

But it simply is not completely equal. The office of the prosecutor has a larger office in order to create investigations. You can’t quite say the prosecutor and the defence should be given the same amount of money.  

The SCSL Principle Defender did not get the same monies as the OTP for practical reasons. But they got a proportionate budget based on their organization and capabilities."

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