Friday, February 23, 2007

Developments at the ICC - Principal Defence Counsel Hired; New Defense Counsel for Lubanga?

More on the Confirmation Decision in the Lubanga case soon. In the meantime, there have been some new developments at the ICC concerning the Defence:

First of all, it seems that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is trying to find a new Defense Counsel as his current counsel Jean Flamme is suffering from health problems: These had already been referred to when the Defence had requested extensions of time limits in the context of appealing the Confirmation Decision of 29 January (see, e.g., para. 2 of this Appeals Chamber document).
In an Appeals Chamber decision of today, we learn that the Defence has submitted a "Demande de suspension de toute action ou procédure afin de permettre la désignation d'un nouveau Conseil de la Défense." The precise content of this document is still confidential, but I guess the title pretty much says it all. The Appeals Chamber has extended the time limits for certain Defence actions until 23 March 2007, so it seems likely that a new Counsel will be chosen by that date at the latest.

In other Defence-related news, the ICC has finally succeeded in hiring a Principal Counsel for the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence, Xavier-Jean Keita of the French bar. Surprisingly little information is available on the web about this new head of the Defence at the ICC (actually, none at all on the ICC website). I find this interesting, especially when compared to the quite abundant information on, e.g., the Chief Prosecutor and his Deputies (see, e.g., this Press Release on the ceremony surrounding the swearing in of Luis Moreno Ocampo) - so much for making the Defence an equal partner and "Fourth Pillar" (next to Judiciary, OTP and Registry) at the ICC, I guess.

Anyway, one of Keita's first acts in office was a response to a decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber "inviting" his office to undertake specicic work for the Lubanga Defence (namely redactions in the application for leave to appeal the Confirmation Decision) in the absence of Counsel Jean Flamme. In his response, Maitre Keita notes not only that his office is not technically able to follow this invitation (not having been granted access to all necessary documents, see para. 22), but also that its mission is to assist Defence Counsel before the Court in general, not to undertake specific work related to a single case, especially where the Defence team in question has not requested the Office to do so (see especially para. 19).

It'll be interesting to see how the relationship of the OPCD to both Defence Counsel and the Chambers of the Court develops further.


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