News 31 May 12

Mladic's Defence Again Asks for Delay

The defence team for Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, again asked the Hague Tribunal to postpone the start of the evidence presentation by six months due to “continuous problems with disclosure of evidence”.

Denis Dzidic

Mladic’s defence had already asked for a six-months delay several times before the trial started on May 16, and this is the second time they have requested postponement since the start of the trial.

Branko Lukic, Mladic’s defence attorney, argues that his trial differed from all the other trials held before the Hague Tribunal, where the evidence was submitted to defence teams “at least three months prior to the presentation of evidence”.

“The defence has still not received all the evidence and the prosecution gave incorrect reports about the disclosure of evidence. The Chamber set the date for the evidence presentation, based on the fact that the defence had received all of the pieces of evidence that the prosecution would use while examining witnesses.  However it did not take the evidence needed for cross-examination of witnesses into consideration,” said Lukic.

The presentation of evidence was originally due to start on May 29 but it was postponed until June 25 because the defence had not received all the evidence.

The Hague prosecutors blamed technical errors for the delay in passing the defence all the declared evidence but emphasised that “only a little over three per cent of all the disclosed evidence” was affected by the problems. 

Mladic is charged with acts of genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and several other Bosnian municipalities in 1992, as well as the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats on the territories controlled by the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, shelling and sniping in Sarajevo and taking international soldiers hostages.

On Thursday, May 31, the Hague Prosecution filed with the Trial Chamber a written motion, containing a revised list of 14 witnesses it wanted to invite during the first month of evidence presentation.

The prosecution said that they have revised the list and selected those witnesses for which the defence had received all the necessary material.

“These 14 witnesses will speak about the two massacres committed in 1992, the initial shelling of Sarajevo in May 1992, a sniping incident and one of the mass murders in Srebrenica. During this part of the trial we shall present evidence related to the organizational structure of the VRS and the manner in which Mladic demonstrated his authority as its commander,” the Hague prosecution's motion says.

Out of the14 witnesses, five will be protected witnesses.  One of them is a former Bosnian Serb soldier who will speak about orders given to snipers during the siege of Sarajevo.

Two witnesses, Rajif Begic and Elvedin Pasic, will speak about the mass murders of Bosniaks in Kljuc and Sanski Most.

Joseph Kingori and Eelco Koster, both former Dutch UN peacekeepers stationed in Srebrenica, and Momir Nikolic, a former Bosnian Serb army officer, who was sentenced in 2006 to 20 years in prison for participating in the killings there, will speak about the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb army in Srebrenica in July 1995.

The ex-UN peacekeepers, David Harland and John Jordan, and Aernout van Lynden, a former Sky News TV reporter, who reported from Sarajevo between 1992 and 1994, will speak about crimes committed in the Bosnian capital.




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