News 15 Mar 12

ICTY Decision “Damaging” to Ratko Mladic

The defence of Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, requests to be allowed to appeal the decision on accepting established facts.

Denis Dzidic

Branko Lukic, Mladic's defence counsel, in a motion to judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, said that the decision on accepting already established facts from other verdicts of the Hague Tribunal "prevents a fair trial".

"The admission of these facts significantly affects the fairness of the proceedings because it shifts the burden of rebuttal to the defence on issues central to the prosecution's case. These facts will affect all the other evidence that will be entered once the actual trial starts," said Lukic in his motion.

Mladic, who was arrested in May last year, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war during the Bosnian conflict between 1992 and 1995.

The defence gave examples of the established facts from other cases which, it claims, would affect the presumption of innocence of the defendant.

One of the established facts, which states that the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, "supported the arming of Serb population in Bosnia" is detrimental to Mladic, the defence feels, because he is charged as a participant in a joint criminal enterprise together with members of the SDS.

Mladic's defence considers that this established fact already proves part of the prosecutions allegations, and as such, is a breach of the presumption of innocence.

The defence also raised an issue with the proposed fact that "members of the military police beat up prisoners in the Manjaca camp near Prijedor".

The defence counsel finds this damaging because Mladic is charged with not taking the necessary measures to prevent and punish soldiers under his control.

In his motion Lukic also pointed out that the ICTY’s Trial Chamber  "reformulated" certain established facts to the defendant's detriment.

 As an example, Mladic's defence showed that one of the facts which states that the "houses of Bosniaks in Kljuc were destroyed by soldiers of the Army of Republika Srpska" has a time frame added, and that the established fact now reads "in May 1992, the houses of Bosniaks in Kljuc were destroyed by soldiers of the Army of Republika Srpska".

The defence explained that this is to their detriment since Mladic took over control of the Army of Republika Srpska in May 1992.

The decision on the admissibility of the appeal will be made at a later date. The trial of Ratko Mladic is due to start on May 14.

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