News 15 Sep 16

Mladic Trial: Court Refuses to Consider Bias Claims

The Hague Tribunal refused to consider a motion filed by former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s defence asking for the trial to be stopped because the court was systematically biased.

Justice Report
Ratko Mladic in court in The Hague. Photo: Beta.

Carmel Agius, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, said on Wednesday that he would not consider the motion to discontinue the trial because Mladic’s defence had not included “the legal grounds” for such a decision to be made.

Agius added that there was “not a single unsolved appeal [from Mladic’s defence] regarding the alleged partiality”.

In July this year, Mladic’s defence asked the ICTY to discontinue the proceedings against the former Bosnian Serb military commander because of what it called the “systematic partiality” of the Tribunal.

The defence asked for the trial to be halted and a UN Security Council working group to be set up in order to prepare a report on whether Mladic’s rights to a fair trial and presumption of innocence have been violated.

They claimed that judges Alphons Orie and Cristoph Flugge, as well as ICTY president Agius, had previously made conclusions about Mladic’s guilt, which precludes a fair trial.

They cited previous verdicts handed down by the Hague Tribunal in cases related to Srebrenica and Sarajevo in which Agius, Orie and Flugge were involved.

In the Srebrenica verdicts, Mladic was named as a member of a joint criminal enterprise that aimed to kill able-bodied Bosniak men.

The defence also objected due to the fact that Theodor Meron, the president of the Mechanism for International Tribunals, who will lead the appeals procedure in Mladic’s case, said the former Bosnian Serb general was guilty.

Mladic’s lawyers argued that Meron had said that “the Tribunal will not consider its work done until Karadzic and Mladic have been brought to justice”.

“It is clear that there is no presumption of innocence in the case of the defendant before this Tribunal. Besides the cancellation of the proceedings, the only possible solution would be to discontinue it permanently due to serious violations of human rights,” the defence said in its motion to the court.

Mladic is on trial for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in several other municipalities, terrorising the population of Sarajevo citizens and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The presentation of the closing statements in the trial is scheduled for December this year.

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