The trial chambers hearing the cases against Krajisnik and Stankovic publish written statements of reasons for their decisions not to allow the accused to represent themselves

Momcilo Krajisnik in the courtroomMomcilo Krajisnik in the courtroom

The trial chambers denied the motions filed by two accused, Momcilo Krajisnik and Radovan Stankovic, to represent themselves. In Krajisnik's case, the reason was the "ambiguity" of the motion he filed, and in Stankovic's case, his "obstructive behavior" in courtroom.

In May, Momcilo Krajisnik, former Bosnian political leader, charged with genocide in BH, sought to be allowed to defend himself in the trial on charges of genocide in BH. He did so in the course of the prosecution case, explaining that his defense counsel "are not helping to establish the truth." As a preliminary measure until the final decision was made, the judges allowed him to put a few questions to the prosecution witnesses after his lawyers completed their cross-examination. When the prosecution rested in July, the Chamber rendered its oral decision not to allow Krajisnik to represent himself. A written statement of reasons has been published recently.

Having analyzed arguments presented by Krajisnik over the past months in support of his motion, the judges concluded that he requested to represent himself solely because he wanted "a more efficient defense" – and this had rendered his motion "unclear and equivocal”. Because of chronic ambiguity in his arguments, the judges dismissed them. The statement of reasons notes that in late July Krajisnik failed to state whether he wanted the judges to continue considering his motion. Previously he let it be known, during his negotiations with the Registry, that he would be ready to break a deal if the Tribunal agreed to finance his investigating team in Pale. While the Registry (which partially covers his defense costs) offered 1,000 dollars a month, Krajisnik asked for 3,800. This was not approved. If the accused represents himself, the Registry would not cover the costs incurred by his defense team at all (until now, he has been given 36,500 dollars a month for this purpose), the judges note. Krajisnik will have to provide 10,000 dollars a month for his defense from his own sources.

Since the accused raised the issue of self-representation, “the resources made available to his defense by the Registry as well as the organization of the defense team, have increased or improved", state the judges in their decision. British lawyer Nicholas Stewart was joined in July by David Josse, who replaced Australian lawyer Chrissa Loukas, with Krajisnik's approval.

Finally, the Trial Chamber notes that Krajisnik's motion would have been denied even if it hadn't been equivocal: the motion was filed at a late stage in the proceedings and, if accepted, it would have disrupted the trial proceedings.

In the case of Radovan Stankovic, charged with rapes of Bosniak women in Foca, the reasons for refusing his motion to be allowed to represent himself were of a different nature. Stankovic’s behaviour in the courtroom so far is being seen as problematic. As for his intent, the judges decided he was unambiguous and clear. Namely, Stankovic refuses to accept the defense counsel assigned to him by the Tribunal and would accept only his former lawyer, who has been suspended because of professional misconduct. Regarding Stankovic’s behaviour, the judges note that he used "abusive language" and behaved "improperly" during pre-trial conferences. In his written motions, he used unacceptable language, addressing them to, for instance,
"Registry of the Monstrous Fascist Hague Tribunal." The chamber decided that the obstructive behavior of the accused would impede the proceedings and seriously harm his defense, if he were to be allowed to represent himself.

The Referral Bench has decided to refer the case to BH, but Stankovic filed an appeal against that decision; the Appeals Chamber is considering it.