The defence of Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, requested the beginning of his trial to be postponed until the prosecution reveals all of its evidence.
At a status conference before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, Branko Lukic, Mladic’s lawyer, said that by being late with submitting its evidence to the defence, the prosecution violated an “essential element of fair trial.”
“The disclosure of evidence enables us to prepare for the case. We do not have the materials and we demand that the trial does not start and that the prosecution calls no witnesses until it submits all of its evidence. We think it is in accordance with the practice of the court,” said Lukic.
Lukic told the ICTY judges that the fact that Mladic is the last man indicted before the Hague Tribunal should not allow for his rights to be infringed.
The defence’s objections are related to around 900 documents which were not submitted in time.
The prosecution explained that so far around 70 per cent of the belated evidence has been processed, and that they hope the remaining evidence will be submitted to the defence in the “next several weeks”.
Judge Alphons Orie, asked Mladic’s defence to submit its proposal for the postponement of the trial in a written form, after which a decision would be made.
Mladic addressed the court and said that he insists that all potential witnesses come and face him.
“I do not accept written statements, let them say what they have to say to my face. Regardless of whether they want to smear me or not, I want them all to come, be them Muslims, Croats, Albanians,” said Mladic.
Mladic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and violation of laws and customs of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina committed between 1992 and 1995.
He was arrested in May last year, and appeared before the judges of the ICTY for the first time on June 3, 2011.
The Hague Tribunal judges decided that the trial of Mladic should start on May 14 with opening arguments.
At the latest status conference, Mladic said that he would stand up when the judges enter and leave the courtroom, not out of respect, but because he wanted to participate in the process as a defendant, and that they could expect only the truth from him.
The next status conference is scheduled for April 24.
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In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.