Viewing cable 04THEHAGUE2869
Title: ICTY - APPEALS CHAMBER RETURNS LEAD IN DEFENSE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04THEHAGUE28692004-11-05 15:08:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002869 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI - PROSPER/RICHARD, EUR - STEPHENS, 
EUR/SCE - GAUDIOSI/GREGORIAN/MITCHELL, L/EUR - LAHNE, L/AF 
- GTAFT. INR/WCAD - SEIDENSTRICKER/MORIN; USUN FOR 
ROSTOW/WILLSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: FIVE YEARS AFTER ICTY CLOSURE 
TAGS: BK HR KAWC NL PHUM PREL SR ICTY
SUBJECT: ICTY - APPEALS CHAMBER RETURNS LEAD IN DEFENSE 
CASE TO MILOSEVIC 
 
REF: A. THE HAGUE 2792 
 
     ¶B. THE HAGUE 2736 
 
Classified By: Clifton M. Johnson, Legal Counselor, Reason 1.5(b)-(d). 
 
¶1. (SBU)  Summary:  On November 1, the Appeals Chamber of the 
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia 
(ICTY) upheld the Milosevic trial chamber,s decision to 
impose counsel on the accused but reversed the trial 
chamber,s decision to give assigned counsel a lead role in 
the case.  Finding that the trial chamber erred in both the 
law and the facts, the appeals chamber ordered a return to 
Milosevic of the "lead in presenting his case."  The ruling 
will place counsel in the stand-by mode it should have been 
in to begin with, and is all but certain to lead to 
Milsevic,s reengagement with the case.  While this will 
enhance the legitimacy of the trial, it will also confront 
States once again with Milosevic,s politicized defense and 
requests that former senior officials testify in the trial. 
End summary. 
 
¶2. (SBU) In a widely-anticipated opinion issued on November 
1, the Appeals Chamber, presided over by ICTY president 
Theodor Meron, acknowledged the trial chamber,s difficulty 
conducting the trial while Milosevic,s health deteriorated. 
Describing at length the trial chamber,s many health-related 
obstacles in hearing the case, including thirteen suspensions 
for a total of 66 days and doctors, prognoses that there was 
a "real risk that a life-threatening hypertensive emergency 
would develop if (Milosevic) continued to represent himself," 
the Appeals Chamber concluded that "although the question is 
close" the trial chamber did not abuse its discretion in 
assigning counsel over the objections of the accused. 
 
¶3. (SBU) The Appeals Chamber "part(ed) ways" with the trial 
chamber, however, in its interpretation of the appropriate 
relationship between Milosevic and his assigned counsel. 
Since imposing counsel intrudes on Milosevic,s right to 
represent himself, the opinion states, the intrusion should 
be "limited to the minimum extent necessary to protect the 
Tribunal,s interest in assuring a reasonably expeditious 
trial."  The chamber went on to instruct the trial chamber to 
devise a scheme that "minimizes the practical impact of the 
formal assignment of counsel," so that Milosevic will again 
take on the primary role in his defense, as he did before 
counsel, Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins, were assigned.  The 
opinion notes that, "(I)n practice, if all goes well, the 
trial should continue much as it did when Milosevic was 
healthy. To a lay observer, who will see Milosevic playing 
the principal courtroom role at the hearings, the difference 
may well be imperceptible."  It continued, "If Milosevic,s 
health problems resurface with sufficient gravity, however, 
the presence of Assigned Counsel will enable the trial to 
continue even if Milosevic is temporarily unable to 
participate. The precise point at which that reshuffling of 
trial roles should occur will be up to the Trial Chamber." 
 
¶4. (C) Participants in the trial have reacted variously to 
this balanced decision, all with a tinge of criticism.  Lead 
prosecutor Geoffrey Nice is, predictably, upset that the 
Appeals Chamber rejected the hard line position (i.e., that 
keeping defense counsel in the lead is essential and that 
only Milosevic is to blame for the problems in the trial) 
adopted by the trial chamber at his urging.  Steven Kay told 
emboff that he found the decision "weak-kneed," and in the 
same breath suggested that his "ethical" obligations require 
him to continue to seek withdrawal from the case.  See 
reftels.  His "position has not changed" on withdrawal Kay 
says, although he retains "a duty" to continue functioning as 
defense counsel. Kay further suggested that he will 
reevaluate his position following the resumption of the case 
on Tuesday, November 9, when the trial chamber,s 
implementation of the appeals ruling will be clearer.  (NB: 
The trial chamber, according to one Registry source, has 
ordered the parties to be prepared to discuss the withdrawal 
issue on November 9, after which it is expected to issue an 
order dealing with that and any other issues necessary to 
getting the trial back on track.) 
 
¶5. (C) Embassy legal officers have learned that, as expected, 
Milosevic is happy with the ruling and expects to begin 
retaking the lead of his case next week (though he could use 
more time to prepare, it is said).  However, a Registry 
source says that the "bridge" between Milosevic and Kay "has 
been burned" and "will take some time" to repair.  For 
instance, a group associated with Milosevic has filed a 
complaint against Kay before the Dutch bar, apparently 
arguing that his disclosure of medical records violated the 
confidentiality of those records.  (Separately, the group has 
 
SIPDIS 
filed a complaint against the Dutch physician, Dr. van 
Dijkman, on similar grounds.)  The import of the claim 
against Kay is unclear, including whether it is something 
that Milosevic can and will withdraw if relations with Kay 
improve.  In any event, Emboffs understand that the Registry 
is striving to avoid the loss of Kay and Higgins, who know 
the case well and, in its view, are best prepared to 
participate as stand-by counsel. 
 
¶6. (C) Comment: The decision of the Appeals Chamber reorients 
the defense case back to where it should have been at the 
time counsel was imposed, with Milosevic in the lead but 
supported by a stand-by counsel in (the likely) case that his 
health again affects his ability to participate in the 
proceedings.  Whether this decision will get the case back on 
track depends on two key wildcards: whether Milosevic takes 
the bait and returns to active participation in the trial and 
whether the defense counsel continue to pursue their request 
to be removed from the case.  If Milosevic reengages fully, 
including with counsel, Kay and Higgins, reasons for seeking 
dismissal will be measurably diminished, and they would be 
likely to remain on the case.  That in turn will help ensure 
a credible and visible defense, albeit one that will extend 
the trial well into 2006 and present states with the 
politicized defense and senior official witness demands that 
are at the heart of Milosevic's approach.  End comment. 
SOBEL