In its decision, the Trial Chamber notes that the minimal guaranteed rights of the accused include the option for the accused to either represent themselves or to opt for legal counsel of their choice. Karadzic wants both, to represent himself and to choose his legal counsel to be appointed if Karadzic continues to obstruct justice

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

The Appeals Chamber dismissed Radovan Karadzic’s motion against the appointment of British lawyer Richard Harvey as his standby counsel in its entirety.

Karadzic appealed against the decision of the Trial Chamber of 23 December 2009 dismissing his motion to review the Registrar’s decision appointing Harvey. In his motion, Karadzic maintained that the Registrar made a number of procedural errors when it appointed the British lawyer, violating the Statute and other rules of the Tribunal and the Appeal Chamber’s decision in the Vojislav Seselj case.

In the Appeals Chamber’s view, the Registrar hasn’t violated rights of the accused in the procedure to appoint counsel. The Tribunal’s Statute guarantees the ‘right of the accused to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing’. It seems that Karadzic would like to enjoy both guarantees at the same time: he wants both to represent himself and to choose his counsel, the Appeals Chamber noted. If the Trial Chamber rules that the accused is obstructing ‘the proper and expeditious conduct of the trial’, counsel will be appointed to Karadzic.

The judges paid no heed to Karadzic’s invoking of the Appeals Chamber’s decision from December 2006, rescinding the decision to appoint standby counsel to the accused Vojislav Seselj. Noting there are substantial differences in ‘the factual and procedural context’, the Appeals Chamber stressed that in the Seselj’s case the decision to appoint standby counsel was rescinded because the Trial Chamber failed to warn the accused that counsel might be imposed on him if he continued with his obstructive behavior. Contrary to that, the Appeals Chamber said in its decision made public today, Karadzic has been warned repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that his ‘substantial and persistent obstruction of proper and expeditious conduct of the trial’ might result in the restrictions to his right to self-representation.

The English lawyer has been merely appointed as standby counsel; he has not been assigned to Karadzic who will continue to represent himself. However, if Karadzic continues to obstruct the trial when it continues of 1 March 2010, Harvey will be called to take over the defense of the accused.