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Principal Counsel for Defense says the ICC is not a Colonial Court 

By Mohamed Konneh

The Principal Counsel for Defense at the International Criminal Court Xavier Jean has said that the ICC is not a colonial court and do not listen or take directives from anywhere.

Xavier was speaking at a press conference in The Hague attended by journalists from West Africa.

Xavier Jean

“We assist the defense team in defending their clients noting that a strong defence is a vital component of a fair trial. The Defence teams represent and protect the rights of the defendant and that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court”, Xavier said.

The Principal Counsel for Defense said each defendant is entitled to public, fair proceedings conducted impartially and in full equality. The Rome Statute grants the defendant specific rights, including: the right to be informed of the charges; to have adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence; to be tried without undue delay; to freely choose a lawyer; to examine witnesses and present evidence to not be compelled to testify or to confess guilt; to remain silent; to receive from the Prosecutor evidence which he or she believes shows or tends to show the innocence of the accused, or to mitigate the guilt of the accused; to be able to follow the proceedings in a language he or she fully understands, and therefore to have an interpreter and translations as required.

He said what is important is a fair trial noting that his office is not there to please anybody but to go by the dictate of the court in the interest of fair and transparent trails.

Xavier speaking passionately said victims only get reparation if there is a conviction and that without conviction no reparation is given. This is he said needs another system noting that the Rome Statute that set up the court state only look at conviction when accused persons are convicted.

“There is every need to protect victims even if the accused is acquitted and discharged noting that is something he feel strongly about” he said.

The Registry provides a number of services to support the work of Defence teams, including facilitating the protection of confidentiality, providing support during the investigations activities conducted in the field, assisting arrested persons, persons interviewed by the Prosecution and the accused to obtain legal advice and the assistance of legal counsel. The Court also facilitates the necessary facilities for the Defence teams to prepare for cases, and other logistical support. The Court’s legal aid system ensures that the reasonable cost of legal representation is paid by the Court for persons who do not have sufficient means to pay for it.

Within the Court, Defence teams can also benefit from assistance of the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD). The OPCD, established by Regulation of the Court 77, is an independent office and falls within the Registry solely for administrative purposes. This independence is a prerequisite for carrying out the mandate to substantively assist the teams with legal research and advice and advance submissions on behalf of unrepresented suspects or on specific issues. Such independence allows the Office to work without being subjected to pressure of any kind and preserves attorney-client privilege. The Office has also an important role in enhancing the rights of defence in the proceedings, advocating at different levels and participating in specialised meetings with subsidiary bodies of the Assembly of States Parties and NGOs.

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