Head of STL Defense Office Adopts Legal Aid Policy
Francois Roux, Head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, adopted Friday the Legal Aid Policy, which regulates the representation of accused persons before the STL who cannot afford to pay for their own defense, the STL said in a statement.
“All accused persons before the STL have the right to legal representation. If an accused does not have sufficient financial means to pay for his own defense, the Tribunal will pay for his legal representation,” the STL announced.
“Upon application, the Registrar determines whether or not an accused has sufficient financial means, and calculates how much an accused can contribute towards his own defense. An accused will be required to contribute toward the cost of his defense only in case of a conviction,” it explained.
The tribunal said “each accused, presumed innocent until proven guilty, has the right to equality of arms.”
“The Legal Aid Policy seeks to effectively implement this right by paying defense counsel the equivalent net salary of that accorded to a senior trial attorney for the Prosecution, and by making available to the defense counsel adequate human and financial resources.”
The STL noted that the Head of Defense Office is responsible for the assignment of defense counsel to represent the accused who will be tried in absentia. “A defense team representing an accused in absentia will have the same composition as for any other accused, and have the same resources at its disposal,” it said.
“The policy covers all necessary and reasonable costs of legal representation. This mainly includes the assignment of defense counsel and their team. A ‘standard’ defense team is composed of a lead counsel and a co-counsel, a junior lawyer, a case manager, an investigator and a language assistant. In addition, the policy covers expenses for experts, and expenses related to defense investigations,” the tribunal clarified.
Roux has set up a Legal Aid Unit within the Defense Office to handle the administration of legal aid. The Head of the Legal Aid Unit will be responsible for any decisions in this regard. “His decisions are subject to review by the Head of Defense Office and may ultimately be appealed before a Judge,” the STL noted.
It said the budget for legal aid is “a component of the overall budget of the Tribunal and is approved by the Management Committee,” adding that “the contributions of Lebanon and other states are used to pay for the legal aid.”
According to the tribunal's 2007 founding text, Lebanon is responsible for 49 percent of the court's finances.
The tribunal was created by a 2007 U.N. Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request, to try those responsible for ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination in a suicide car bombing on February 14, 2005.
Twenty-two other people also died.
Last month, the court published an indictment and said it had enough evidence to put on trial four members of Hizbullah – Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hassan Aneissi and Assad Sabra.
Court Registrar Herman von Hebel said in August that a trial could start at around mid-2012.