I N T E R N A T I O N A L   P R O G R E S S    O R G A N I Z A T I O N


Vienna, 8 September 2004/P/RE/18849c

In reference to the Memorandum, dated 27 May 1999, on the lack of legal validity of the indictment of the former President of Yugoslavia by the so-called "International Tribunal" and lack of legitimacy of said tribunal under basic rules of international law, the International Progress Organization would like to emphasize the following points in regard to the assignment of counsel by oral order of the so-called "Trial Chamber III" to the former President of Yugoslavia against his will:

1. The "International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991" lacks moral as well as judicial legitimacy. Its creation by the UN Security Council was an act ultra vires; decisions of the "Tribunal's" officials have no legal validity.

2. Apart from its intrinsic illegitimacy, the decision to impose counsel upon Mr. Milošević against his will is in blatant violation of the "Tribunal's" own "Statute" Art. 21 (Rights of the accused), Par. 4 (d) of which states that the accused shall be entitled "to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing." It is to be noted that the "Statute's" additional provision ("to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require") is not applicable in this particular situation.

3. The fact that there is no written order, outlining the "Trial Chamber's" legal reasons for the imposition of counsel (the communiqué of 2 September, CC/P.I.S./889-e,  announcing the wording of the "oral order" appears to omit two paragraphs), while there exists a detailed written "Order on the modalities to be followed by court assigned counsel," dated 3 September 2004, further underlines the arbitrariness and political nature of this decision.

4. The imposition of counsel against the declared will of the former President of Yugoslavia constitutes a serious violation of the accused's basic human rights as enshrined in international covenants.

5. The "Trial Chamber's" decision has documented one more time that this "International Tribunal" is not a court of law, but a political undertaking.

6. The reservations expressed by the former President of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Mr. Nikolai Ryzhkov, according to wich "Slobodan Milošević didn't get an assigned counsel, but another prosecutor who will only act using other means" are well founded. Mr. Ryzhkov's refusal to appear, under these circumstances, as a defense witness is fully understandable.

7. The operation of the "Tribunal" in the Hague, as an essentially political project, is further undermining the important cause of universal jurisdiction as represented by the International Criminal Court.

Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Koechler


  • Memorandum dated 27 May 1999

  • Global Justice or Global Revenge? by Hans Koechler (2004)