Interviews 03 Jun 11

John Hocking: Hague Completing Tasks With Mladic Trial

ICTY registrar John Hocking says former Bosnian Serb commander's trial will form an important part of court's completion strategy.

Anisa Suceska-Vekic
The Hague

Q: Why is Mladic's arrest important?

A: It's extremely significant for a number of reasons. It's extremely important for the states of the former Yugoslavia, the people of the former Yugoslavia, and for international justice. The Security  Council in 1993 created the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia] and gave it a very important mandate, to try those considered most responsible for the serious violations that took place in the former Yugoslavia during the wars in the 1990s. The tribunal has indicted 161 persons. Of that number, all but two up until last week had been arrested. With the arrest of Ratko Mladic, only Goran Hadzic remains at large.  It is extremely important because now the Tribunal is completing all of its work.  

Q:What kind of medical examination have you given Mladic?

A: On Mladic's arrival at the airport on Tuesday night, I met him as he came off the plane. I had a doctor from the United Nations Detention Unit.  He undertook a preliminary examination and the doctor determined that he was suitable for transfer to the detention unit. On arrival at the detention unit, as is the practice with all new arrivals, he was examined in our medical facility by the doctor and by nurses. At the moment we are undertaking regular tests on Mladic.  

It is important to appreciate now I have responsibility for looking after his well-being and his health, that one of those responsibilities includes respecting his privacy. So, details related to his state of health, his medical condition, remain confidential. Our rules of detention provide that they must remain confidential unless the accused person, Ratko Mladic himself, gives me the authority to release this material.

Q: What is the estimate of his overall health?

A: As I said, I am not going to disclose his personal information. At the moment, I can say that he is getting all necessary assistance and has been examined on a regular basis by the doctor.

Q: Did he consent to Counsel being appointed?
A: Absolutely. One of the responsibilities of the registry is to meet with the accused. My office has met with Mladic, and given him the options for counsel. He agreed to the assignment of Mr. Aleksandar Aleksic for the role of undertaking the initial appearance.

Q: Has Mladic indicated how he will defend himself?

A: He has not as yet appointed someone; actually, it would be for me to finally make that appointment, but these are the discussions that will be ongoing in the coming days and perhaps weeks. The decision that any accused person has to take regarding the defence counsel that will represent them is extremely important. We in the registry provide as much information as we can to help them, but that will take a little bit more time.

Q: Did Mladic have any special requirements regarding the detention facility?

A: When he arrived on Tuesday evening, I spent a couple of hours with him, we discussed the new regime that he's moving into, the rules of detention that will govern his new life in the detention unit.  That includes things such as access to the telephone and visits.

Q: Did he request any materials for his defence?

A: Not yet.

Q: Will his arrest impact on the tribunal's completion strategy?

A: The completion strategy of the tribunal has always included the arrest of all fugitives, so it included the arrest of Ratko Mladic, therefore it [the arrest] is very consistent with our completion strategy. 

Now, how long the conduct of his trial will take it is a bit too early to say. He will make the initial appearance [on Friday] and then there will be a very vigorous period of pre-trial activitiy. During that time, over the coming weeks and months, the judges will be able to make an estimate and determination of how long the trial will last.

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