Case No. IT-02-60-A

BEFORE THE PRE-APPEAL JUDGE

Before:
Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen, Pre-Appeal Judge

Registrar:
Mr. Hans Holthuis

Decision:
5 October 2005

THE PROSECUTOR

v.

Vidoje BLAGOJEVIC
Dragan JOKIC

___________________________________________________

DECISION ON VIDOJE BLAGOJEVICíS MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME IN WHICH TO FILE HIS APPEAL BRIEF

___________________________________________________

Counsel for the Prosecutor:

Mr. Norman Farrell

Counsel for the Accused:

Mr. Vladimir Domazet for Mr. Vidoje Blagojevic
Ms. Cynthia Sinatra for Mr. Dragan Jokic

 

I, MOHAMED SHAHABUDDEEN, Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991 ("International Tribunal");

NOTING the "Order Assigning Judges to a Case Before an Appeals Chamber," filed on 14 February 2005, which, inter alia, designated me to serve as Pre-Appeal Judge in this case;

NOTING that Trial Chamber I rendered its Judgement in this case orally on 17 January 2005 and in writing on 24 January 2005 ("Judgement");

NOTING that appeals have been filed in this case by Vidoje Blagojevic, Dragan Jokic, and the Prosecution;

NOTING that, pursuant to the ďDecision on Blagojevicís and Jokicís Motions for Extension of Time in Which to File Their Appeal BriefsĒ, filed on 21 July 2005 ("21 July Decision"), and "Decision on Jokicís Motion for Extension of TimeĒ filed on 8 September 2005, the present deadline for Mr. Blagojevicís Appeal Brief is 13 October 2005, while the deadline for Mr. Jokicís Appeal Brief is 4 October 2005, and the Prosecutionís Consolidated Response Brief must be filed within 40 days after Mr. Blagojevicís brief is filed and within 49 days after Mr. Jokicís brief is filed;

BEING SEISED OF Mr. Blagojevicís ďMotion for Extension of Time in Which to File His Appellantís Brief,Ē filed on 19 September 2005 ("Motion"), in which Mr. Blagojevic requests a three-week extension of time on the basis that his counselís legal assistant, Ms. Jelena Vučkovic-Dimitrijevic, had gone on maternity leave on 26 August 2005, leaving counsel temporarily without a legal assistant pending the assignment of a new assistant by the Registry of the International Tribunal;

NOTING the Prosecutionís ďResponse to Blagojevic Motion for Extension of Time in Which to File Appellantís BriefĒ, filed 22 September 2005, which argues that the departure of a legal assistant is not "good cause" for an extension of time because it is principally lead counselís responsibility to prepare the Appeal Brief, that lead counsel has had ample time to do so in this case, that an absence due to pregnancy is predictable and could have been planned around, and that lead counsel is at fault for delaying for more than two weeks his request for a new assistant;

NOTING the Reply filed by Mr. Blagojevic on 26 September 2005, which explains that his assistantís absence came earlier than expected due to unanticipated medical advice, and that it took him some time to find an adequate replacement;

CONSIDERING that the 21 July Decision held that under the circumstances of this case, in which lead counsel is handling a very complex case without co-counsel and is confronted with certain language difficulties, the absence of a legal assistant for a significant period of time constituted "good cause" for an extension of time;

CONSIDERING that the Motion and Reply provide reasonable explanations for counselís failure to anticipate his assistantís departure and for his delay in requesting approval of a new assistant;

CONSIDERING that the 21 July Decision also held that, however, preparing an appeal brief is principally the responsibility of lead counsel and that, for the purpose of determining the length of an extension to be granted, it should be assumed that lead counsel is at least able to make substantial progress on that brief even in the absence of an assistant;

CONSIDERING that, therefore, in light of the fact that Mr. Blagojevicís defence team has been without a legal assistant for only a matter of a few weeks, a three-week extension of time would be excessive, while a one week extension would be appropriate; and

CONSIDERING that, in order to preserve the Prosecutionís ability to file a consolidated brief responding to Mr. Blagojevicís and Mr. Jokicís appeals and to ensure that the Prosecution is not deprived of the forty-day period allocated by Rule 112 for responding to Mr. Blagojevicís appeal brief, any extension given to Mr. Blagojevic must be matched by an extension in the deadline for the consolidated response brief;

GRANT the Motion in part. It is ORDERED that Mr. Blagojevic file his Appeal Brief by 20 October 2005 and that the Prosecution file its Consolidated Response Brief within 40 days of the filing of Mr. Blagojevicís Appeal Brief and within 56 days of the filing of Mr. Jokicís Appeal Brief.

 

Done in English and French, the English text being authoritative.

______________________
Mohamed Shahabuddeen
Pre-Appeal Judge

Dated 5 October 2005
At The Hague
The Netherlands

[Seal of the Tribunal]