Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
|CHAMBRE DE 1ÈRE INSTANCE
The Hague, 12 January 1998
THE ACCUSED ‘S RE-PLEA
WILL BE ENTERED ON WEDNESDAY 14 JANUARY
Accused Drazen ERDEMOVIC will appear on Wednesday 14 January 1998 before Trial Chamber II-ter (consisting of Judge Florence MUMBA, presiding, Judge SHAHABUDDEEN and Judge WANG) to re-enter a plea on the charges in the indictment against him.
This hearing will begin at 2.30 p.m. and will be public.
It is for the first time that an Accused has to re-enter a plea after the Appeals Chamber found on 7 October 1997 that his initial plea on 31 May 1996 "was not informed".
Drazen ERDEMOVIC was born on 25 November 1971. He served three months with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from July 1992 to November 1993 with the Bosnian-Croat forces before joining in April 1994 the Bosnian-Serb Army. He was a member of the latter’s Tenth Sabotage Detachment during the attack and the subsequent take-over of the Srerenica enclave in July 1995.
On 16 July 1995, Drazen ERDEMOVIC participated in a mass-killing carried out by his unit at the "Branjevo" collective farm at Pilica (north of Srebrenica). Hundreds of Muslim men, aged 17 to 60, who had earlier surrendered to Bosnian-Serb military or police personnel were killed during this summary execution which took place over a period of five hours.
Drazen ERDEMOVIC was arrested in Serbia on 2 March 1996 and transferred as a witness to the ICTY on 30 March 1996. He was indicted on 29 May 1996.
Drazen ERDEMOVIC is charged in the alternative with one count of a Crime against humanity (murder) and one count of a Violation of the laws and customs of War (murder).
The proceedings to date
On 31 May 1996 Drazen ERDEMOVIC appeared before a Trial Chamber and entered a GUILTY plea on the count of Crimes against humanity.
On 29 November 1996, he was convicted to ten years imprisonment.
On 23 December 1996, the Accused appealed against the Sentencing Judgment, seeking either acquittal or revision of the sentence.
On 7 October 1997, the Appeals Chambers rejected the applications for acquittal or revision of the sentence but ordered that the case be "remitted to a Trial Chamber other than the one which sentenced the Appellant in order that he be given an opportunity to replead" : a majority of four Judges of the Appeals Chamber (which consists of five Judges) found that the initial guilty
plea entered by the Accused in May 1996 "was not informed" in that the Accused "did not understand the nature of the charges against him and the distinction between the alternative charges (...) In electing to plead guilty to a crime against humanity instead of a war crime the Appellant pleaded guilty to the more serious offense and the one entailing a heavier penalty".
The options of the Accused
At the end of the hearing of 7 October, during which the above mentioned Appeals Chamber’s Judgement was handed down, the Presiding Judge explained to the Accused the options available to him:
(1) you may change your plea of guilty to crimes against humanity, for the acts you confessed to committing at Srebrenica, to one of guilty to war crimes. In this case, the new Trial Chamber will not conduct a trial but will simply proceed to sentence you, and it might decide to take into mitigation your claim to have acted only because of a threat to your
(2) you may again enter a plea of guilty to crimes against humanity. Again, the new Trial Chamber will then simply proceed to sentence, without conducting a trial, and again it might take into account the duress from which you claim to have acted as a mitigating circumstance;
(3) you may enter a plea of not guilty before the new Trial Chamber. In this case, only, will there be a trial on the evidence, to determine whether or not you are guilty as charged. It may be, however - and I cannot speak for that Trial Chamber on this matter - that such a trial could at least be based in part on the evidence you presented before the other Trial Chamber,
which has been recorded on audio and visual-tape. (...) However, as in all trials before this Tribunal, you will be presumed innocent and only convicted and sentenced if the Chamber is satisfied, on the evidence presented, of your guilt beyond reasonable doubt. (...)
Should the Accused plead guilty, the pre-sentencing hearing will begin immediately and is likely to continue throughout Thursday 15 January.
Should the Accused plead not-guilty, a trial date will have to be set.
If you wish to attend the opening of the Dokmanovic Trial on Monday 19 January 1998 at 8.30 am please fill out the form below and fax it back to the Press and Information Office before 16 January 1998. Please be reminded that this month the Trial will only be held for three consecutive days from 8.30 am to 1.15 pm.
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