Serb War Criminal Earned Pounds 100,000 in Legal Aid Scam

By Zimonjic, Vesna Peric | The Independent (London, England), July 12, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Serb War Criminal Earned Pounds 100,000 in Legal Aid Scam


Zimonjic, Vesna Peric, The Independent (London, England)


THE INTERNATIONAL war crimes tribunal is cracking down on a legal aid scheme after the family of a convicted Bosnian Serb benefited from a EUR200,000 (pounds 130,000) windfall.

The system was set up by the court in The Hague to cover the expenses of those indicted for war crimes if they cannot meet their costs.

A fee-splitting practice initially provided 10 per cent for the defendant with 90 per cent going to the lawyer in the early days of the court in 1993. But well-informed sources close to the tribunal said people accused of crimes were now receiving as much as 40 per cent of the legal fees.

Court officials in The Hague are considering calling a halt to the fee- splitting scheme after the sudden enrichment of the family of Zoran Zigic. He was sentenced last November to 25 years in jail after being as convicted for war crimes against non-Serbs in 1992 in the Omarska and Keraterm camps in Bosnia.

Tribunal investigators found that the Zigic family purchased two apartments in November 1998 and April 2000, a commercial firm in July 2001 and three transport vehicles worth EUR126,196 (pounds 81,000). The total sum "earned" by Mr Zigic stands at EUR178,280 (pounds 114,000).

Mr Zigic's attorneys, Simo Tosic from the Bosnian Serb town of Banjaluka and Slobodan Stojanovic from Belgrade, have denied any wrongdoing, saying they were helping their client "within the limits of usual cooperation".

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Serb War Criminal Earned Pounds 100,000 in Legal Aid Scam
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