Analysis 17 Nov 17

Hague Tribunal and Serbs Spent €2m on Mladic Trial

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s defence team, plus his relatives’ visits to the detention unit and financial aid to him personally, have cost the Hague Tribunal, the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia over two million euros.

Admir Muslimovic, Filip Rudic BIRN Sarajevo, Belgrade
Ratko Mladic in court. Photo: Beta.

Experts have described the Ratko Mladic case as one of the most difficult ever heard by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY – but as the former Bosnian Serb military chief awaits his verdict on November 22, it is clear that it has also been very expensive.

Mladic’s defence team - consisting of lawyers Branko Lukic, Miodrag Stojanovic and Dragan Ivetic plus their eight assistants - cost the ICTY around 1,945,500 euros up until the end of the presentation of the evidence in the trial in April 2016, Stojanovic said.

The three lawyers also received a total of ten plane tickets each from the ICTY to come to The Hague and attend the trial, which cost around 37,500 euros, according to Stojanovic.

Serbia has also sought to help Mladic, by giving him 11,400 euros personally over the past four years, while the cost of visits from his family paid for by Serbia – including plane tickets and travel costs – amounted to 41,800 euros, the Serbian justice ministry said.

Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska has only spent money on helping Mladic personally, not on his defence team. The Republika Srpska government said it gave two one-off assistance payments to Mladic in 2013 and 2016 - 5,128 euros each time.

The combined payments add up to 2,045,956 euros.

 
 

After 16 years on the run, Mladic was arrested in 2011 in Serbia and extradited to the ICTY to face charges that as commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Staff, he was responsible for genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and in six other Bosnian municipalities in 1992.

He is also charged with the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout the country, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Mladic faced the ICTY judges for the first time in July 2011.

Mladic’s lawyer Stojanovic explained that the cost of the defence is calculated by the Tribunal in three phases – pretrial, trial and appeal.

“The Tribunal paid Mladic’s defence team and assistants in separate categories,” Stojanovic told BIRN.

The pretrial phase, which lasted from May 2011 to May 2012, cost the ICTY 10,000 euros per month for lawyers and 8,000 euros for assistants. In total, the cost of this phase amounted to 216,000 euros.

The trial phase lasted 47 months, from May 2012 to April 2016, and the lawyers’ and assistants’ fees were therefore much higher.

"The lawyers’ team received around 21,000 euros in the trial phase per month, while the assistants received a total of 15,000 euros per month," said Stojanovic.

According to Stojanovic, the Tribunal spent a total of 1,692,000 euros during the trial phase.

The team of lawyers also had the right to ten plane tickets a year during the trial phase, which cost around 250 euros per lawyer. The tickets cost the Tribunal a total of 37,500 euros.

The expert witnesses were paid by the Hague court through a separate budget, Stojanovic explained.

"An expert hour costs 100 euros, and we were allocated 150 hours, so we needed to do the entire case with 15,000 euros in total, or maybe 20,000," he said.

A total of seven experts were called by the defence to testify.

"This is the part we had most trouble with. The ballistics experts alone asked for around 5,000 euros per expertise. We argued with the court, wrote appeals, because we encountered permanent antagonism and obstruction… We even gave some of our money to pay for experts. The money that the Hague allocated was simply not enough to pay good experts," said Stojanovic.

The appeal phase of the trial will start only after the first-instance verdict, which is scheduled for November 22.

Serbia and Republika Srpska have also sought to aid Mladic during his time in custody, and to help his family.

The Serbian authorities gave Mladic’s family a total of 41,800 euro as part of an assistance project for people charged or convicted by the ICTY. The funds were spent on paying travel fees and plane tickets for three members of Mladic’s family during their visits to The Hague between 2013 and 2017.

The Serbian justice ministry confirmed that Mladic’s relatives flew to The Hague82 times.

Serbia has also been allocating a total of 200 euros per month for Mladic personally since April 2013. So far, he has received 11,400 euros. Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation with the ICTY adopted a decision in 2013 to financially assist Hague convicts and those suspected of humanitarian law violations as well as their families.

The Bosnian Serb authorities have used Republika Srpska’s Centre for War, War Crimes and Missing Persons to pay Mladic to make the two payments of 5,128 euros in 2013 and 2016. The government said that these funds were assigned to "persons who are detained by the Hague Tribunal".

BIRN attempted to get information about the total cost of the trial – including the amount received by prosecutors, judges and various ICTY staff, but the Tribunal did not provide this information.

According to Stojanovic, the cost of the rest of the ICTY staff should be three times bigger than the defence budget, and would amount to six million euros.

He explained that the Mladic proceedings are categorised as an ‘A’ level case - is the toughest type of case before the Tribunal, which means that the lawyers and other staff working on it are better paid than on ordinary cases at the Hague court.

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