Legal Support

Building capacity through teamwork

OKO is able to provide specialist legal advice to individual advocates defending cases before the Court of BiH due to the knowledge and experience within the OKO staff.

The four 'Tim za Podrsku Odbrani' (TPOs) or defence support teams within OKO, cover geographical areas of the country, allowing the lawyers within each TPO to develop an understanding of the legal issues that arise in certain types of cases, a detailed knowledge of the evidence that is relied upon, and an ability to advise advocates on the likely issues in each new case in that geographical area.

This institutional knowledge is complemented by the OKO Legal Associates, who are lawyers with previous experience in international criminal law. They are able to match the international expertise that the prosecution utilizes through their foreign prosecutors.

Each new case is subjected to a legal analysis by the OKO staff in order to identify the important legal issues and the nature of the allegations against the defendant. OKO then prepares legal arguments and memoranda of law on those points in order to assist the advocates in the case.

Areas of law
OKO advises advocates in two key areas of law.

The European Convention on Human Rights. Decisions of the Court of BiH can be reviewed by the Constitutional Court and ultimately by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This is the first time that the decisions of an internationalized war crimes court have been subject to review by a higher court. The Convention is directly incorporated into the law of BiH through the Dayton agreement, and as such is the highest law in the land. There have been many issues where arguments based on Article 5 and Article 6 of the ECHR have been directly relevant for the defence. OKO has several experts in the law of the ECHR and access to all the leading legal textbooks in order to be able to provide high quality advice in this complicated area of law. Not much of this law is available in the Bosnian-Creation-Serbian language, and so the bilingual lawyers within OKO can provide a real service.

International Criminal law. The Court of BiH is likely to rely heavily on the huge volume of caselaw that has been produced by the ICTY and the ICTR, and also by other courts such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The definition of Crimes against Humanity within the Criminal Code of BiH is identical to the definition within the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court and it is expected that the decisions of the ICC in the first cases will be directly relevant to the Court of BiH. Again, much of this law is only available in English or French, and so the staff of OKO can do the legal research that is required in order to ensure the arguments are raised before the Court of BiH.

Previous OKO Legal Associates

Eugene O’Sullivan. Canadian Bar. Defence counsel for Delalic, Plavsic and others at the ICTY. Member of the ICTY Rules Committee. Professor of Law at Laurentian University, Canada.

Guénaël Mettraux. Geneva Bar. Defence counsel in the case of Halilovic at the ICTY. Previously an associate legal officer within Chambers at ICTY. Author of ‘International Crimes and the ad hoc tribunals’, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Melinda Taylor. New York Bar. Legal consultant on defence cases before the ICTY, the ICTR and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Melinda previously worked in the Office of Legal Aid and Detention at the ICTY. She is now working within the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence at the International Criminal Court.

Richard Rogers. Bar of England and Wales and California Bar. Previously an Associate Legal Officer for the ICTY Trial Chamber and the ICTR Appeals Chamber. Head of the Legal System Monitoring Section for OSCE Kosovo. Currently a legal consultant based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working on the Extraordinary Chambers for the Khmer Rouge Trials.

Reinhold Gallmetzer. Legal Officer, Chambers, International Criminal Court. Previously Associate Legal Officer at the ICTY, and a Judicial Training Officer for the OSCE in Kosovo.

Gillian Higgins is a member of the chambers of Rock Tansey QC, 25 Bedford Row, London. She specialises in criminal law and international humanitarian law. She has practised at both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She was assigned as defence counsel to Slobodan Milosevic at the ICTY. She has provided lectures for several European bar associations and universities on aspects of international criminal law and is a legal consultant for the Kurdish Human Rights Project. 

OKO Legal Documents

The ‘Additional Rules of Procedure’ govern the work of OKO, outline the procedure for admissions to the list of advocates, and also deal with the appointment of additional advocates and the special admission of foreign advocates. You can download the Additional Rules here.

The ‘OKO/OLAD Memorandum of Understanding’ deals with the procedures to be followed when a case is transferred from the ICTY to the Court of BiH. It is designed to ensure that where a new lawyer is chosen to represent the defendant, the case files are transferred in an efficient way from the previous lawyer. The Memorandum of Understanding can be downloaded here.

Legal Resources

The best sources of legal documents can be found on the official web site of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by clicking here.