1 Monday, 15 November 2004
2 [Initial Appearance]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 4.05 p.m.
6 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] I want to welcome everybody
7 here, and I would like the Court Deputy to please call the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Case number
9 IT-95-17-I, the Prosecutor versus Miroslav Bralo.
10 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. I would
11 like to let the parties remember that this hearing is held further to
12 Article 62 of the Rules, Rule 62, in order to see the initial appearance
13 of Mr. Bralo.
14 Pursuant to the information which -- Bralo surrendered on the
15 10th of November 2004. The President of the Tribunal issued an order to
16 begin the case -- assigning the case to Trial Chamber I, and therefore, I
17 had to designate myself, since I was a member of the first Trial Chamber,
18 to have this hearing for a first appearance, initial appearance of the
20 I would now like to ask the parties what are the appearances for
21 the parties. Prosecution, please.
22 MR. SCOTT: Good afternoon, Your Honour. May it please the
23 Court, Kenneth Scott, senior trial attorney appearing for the
24 Prosecution, together with Mr. Fergal Gaynor, and our case manager, Mr.
25 Sebastiaan van Hooydonk. I should indicate to the Court that this case
1 is assigned to Mr. Mark Harmon, but Mr. Harmon is away from The Hague
2 this week and I am covering for purposes of this appearance.
3 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] thank you very much.
4 Appearances for the Defence, please.
5 MS. LINDSAY: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Virginia Lindsay on
6 behalf of Mr. Miroslav Bralo.
7 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, madam.
8 Mr. Bralo, I would like to know if you can hear me in a language
9 you understand.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I can, Your Honour.
11 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Are you indeed Miroslav Bralo?
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I am.
13 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] You also have a nickname?
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I do.
15 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] What is this nickname?
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Cicko.
17 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] And you were born on the 13th of
18 October, 1967?
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Indeed, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Where were you born?
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Kratine, Vitez municipality.
22 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Very well. Before the armed
23 conflict, you were working where? What was your job?
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I was working at the Zenica
1 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Were you not working at the
2 Slobodan Princip Seljo plant?
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] No, never.
4 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] You are presently living at
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] And your height is about 1
8 metre, 90 centimetres?
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] 184, in fact.
10 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you. You may
11 sit down.
12 I would now turn to the Prosecution to mention what is written in
13 paragraph 8 of the indictment where it reads: [In English] "He worked in
14 the Slobodan Princip Seljo factory."
15 [Interpretation] And now Mr. Bralo tells us that he has never
16 worked there. I would like to be told whether this information doesn't
17 cast a doubt about the identity of Mr. Bralo.
18 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour Mr. President, I don't think I can shed
19 any specific light on that point this afternoon. Mr. Bralo's answer
20 comes as a bit of a surprise to me, to be perfectly honest. However,
21 having said that, I have no reason to believe that that raises any
22 serious issue as to his identification. I think in all other respects
23 the accused has indicated that he is the person by this name, by this
24 nickname, born at the location indicated, and a current living location.
25 So --
1 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Very well. I would also like to
2 call your attention to the order which was made by Judge May on the 29th
3 of January, which contains the following information - I will quote it;
4 I've got a translation in French of this decision which says -- which
5 reads: "He was a member of a military unit which was known under the
6 name of the Jokers, and he measures 1 metre 90."
7 Now Mr. Bralo is telling us that this is not exact and that his
8 height is about -- well, it's within the measurement in question, but I
9 want to be sure about the identity of the person in question.
10 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, again, I would suggest that the
11 differentiation, if you will, the discrepancy if one wants to call it
12 that, in height is not so significant that it rules out that we have the
13 right person here, and I suggest that based on what we know so far we do.
14 As to his membership in a particular military unit, I might suggest, Your
15 Honour, that that may take us further into what might be considered the
16 merits of the case, and for purposes of identification I don't know that
17 we would need to establish that at this moment.
18 The Prosecution would submit that the difference in height
19 between 184 metres -- approximately 184 centimetres, excuse me, and 190
20 is not so substantial as to raise a serious question.
21 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] No, but at least it's a point on
22 which I would like to have all the light shed as soon as possible, in
23 order to be able to identify that it is indeed Mr. Bralo who is the
24 accused person. Therefore, since you are on your feet, I would like to
25 ask you to check the indictment at paragraph 3, first sentence, first
1 line. Is there a typo when it mentioned HZ BZ armed forces? Did you
2 mean HZ HB?
3 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour, exactly correct.
4 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Very well. So other the matters
5 have -- will be checked. Minor detail. I would like you to have a look
6 at page 5 and 6 of the indictment. Page 5 mentions a certain Victim B
7 - this is in paragraph 23 - Victim B. Have you found the place? Can you
8 follow me?
9 MR. SCOTT: Yes.
10 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] And page -- at page 6, in
11 paragraph 24, it is said there is an accused, Accused B. Fourth line.
12 And this indictment consists only of one indicted person, only one
13 accused person.
14 I'd like to remind you briefly the procedural history of this
15 case. Initially there were four accused, if you remember that. Mr.
16 Bralo was the first one of them. Number 2 was Mr. Furundzija who was
17 tried by a Trial Chamber and by an Appeals Chamber, if I remember well,
18 in July 2000. And as for the other two accused whose name I will not
19 mention for the reason you know about, the indictment was withdrawn.
20 Therefore, among four of the accused remains only Mr. Bralo who was
21 concerned by this indictment which you call the service indictment -- the
22 third indictment, filed on the 21st of December, 1998.
23 May this perhaps cause also the Defence certain problems to know
24 how this indictment was confirmed in November 1995? And now one reads
25 here that the indictment was filed on the 21st of December, 1998.
1 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me.
2 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Yes.
3 [Prosecutor counsel confer]
4 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, I'll try to assist the Chamber as much
5 as I can. The document that is dated on the front page of the document
6 at the top, 21 December 1998, my understanding is that when this matter
7 was considered by Judge May around that time, he had directed that a new
8 version of the indictment be prepared for the purposes, indeed, of
9 protecting the identity of certain persons. So when the indictment was
10 prepared, this version which is the service copy, and it's my
11 understanding the one that is dated 1998 on the top of the first page --
12 I am told is the version that has been served upon the accused, and that
13 was the version that was specifically prepared at the direction of
14 Judge May for purposes of protecting the identity of other persons in the
15 indictment. But original indictment itself was returned and confirmed
16 back in 1995 under the -- at the time when the Office of the Prosecutor
17 was managed by Mr. Goldstone.
18 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Yes. On this occasion I would
19 like also to draw your attention to -- without revealing, as far as the
20 two other accused are concerned -- as far as one of them is concerned,
21 the indictment was withdrawn on the 28th of May, 1998. As for the other
22 accused, it was the 3rd of October, 2002. Therefore, until 2002, one of
23 them at least was still accused.
24 So a problem remains as far as -- well, concerning what you said,
25 Accused B mentioned in paragraph 24 of the indictment, because we only
1 have one accused, Mr. Bralo. This is what I understand. I see there
2 might be a typo or some mistake. But when you say Accused B, who indeed
3 is he? It's another accused person who doesn't feature in the
4 indictment. I'm not asking you for an answer forthwith, but I would like
5 to have, as soon as possible, an answer to that question.
6 MR. SCOTT: Very well, Your Honour. I think -- I think I do know
7 who Accused B is --
8 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Anyway, please don't -- please
9 go on.
10 MR. SCOTT: At the Court's suggestion, and if the Court will
11 allow, I would like to report that information after verifying and making
12 sure of -- number one, that it's completely accurate; and number two, any
13 concerns about protection that might still be in place. I don't think
14 there are, but with the Court's permission, I would rather confirm that
15 before making such a statement.
16 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
17 Therefore, this hearing, at this initial appearance, I have a
18 duty to make sure that Mr. Bralo is properly informed about the
19 indictment, against the accusations against him, levelled against him. I
20 am sure the Defence knows that according to Articles -- Rule 62 of the
21 Rules, a hearing has to take place to inform the accused, tell him what
22 the indictment is about, and the accused has a right in 30 days to
23 reflect, well -- his or her position and not to enter a plea of guilty or
24 not guilty during that 30-day period; that the accused has a right to
25 enter a plea during the initial appearance hearing if the accused so
2 Therefore, Counsel, I would like to ask you whether you've made
3 contact with Mr. Bralo and whether Mr. Bralo, first of all, has been
4 informed by you of the general context of the indictment and whether you
5 know whether Mr. Bralo intends to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty
6 in this hearing, or whether the accused is asking for a deferral
7 in -- which of course Rule 62 provides for.
8 Yes, please, you can take the floor.
9 MS. LINDSAY: Thank you, Your Honour. I've met with Mr. Bralo,
10 and he has a general understanding of the charges against him, and he
11 would ask that we have a further appearance scheduled in 30 days.
12 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Counsel.
13 This being said, I believe it is my duty to give a procedural history or,
14 rather, a summary of the indictment.
15 I will recall that the indictment contains four sections. The
16 first section might be entitled "Facts," factual and temporal context of
17 the indictment. In this section, the indictment speaks of the
18 declaration of the independence of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
19 This section also deals with what was the position of the Croat Community
20 of Herceg-Bosna, which considered itself as an independent political
21 entity inside the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that as of January
22 1993 until mid-July 1993, armed forces of this community - these forces
23 known as the Croatian Defence Council, the actual name HVO - were engaged
24 in armed conflict with the armed forces of the government of the Republic
25 of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1 In this section, one can read also that as from the beginning of
2 hostilities, the HVO forces attacked villages which were inhabited by
3 Bosnian Muslims in the Lasva River Valley region, and the attacks
4 resulted in the death and wounding of numerous civilians. In addition,
5 other civilians were detained, transported from their places of
6 residence, forced to perform manual labour. They were tortured,
7 subjected to sexual assaults and other physical and mental abuse,
8 physical and mental abuse.
9 Hundreds of Bosnian Muslim civilians were arrested by the HVO
10 forces and taken to the locations used as detention facilities. The
11 indictment mentions two examples, the Vitez Cinema Complex; and secondly,
12 the Vitez Veterinary Station, which were being used as detention
14 In the indictment, one reads also that while imprisoned, numerous
15 Bosnian Muslim prisoners were brought to the front lines where HVO
16 soldiers forced them to dig protective trenches to protect HVO soldiers
17 from being shot by BH snipers. One of these locations where the
18 detainees were forced to dig trenches was at Kratine, a small hamlet in
19 the Vitez municipality.
20 After that, the indictment describes the accused himself, and
21 mentions the fact that he was a member of a special forces group within
22 the HVO called the Jokers, language -- Dzokeri in B/C/S.
23 The third section of the indictment is entitled "General
24 Allegations," bears the title "General Allegations," and I'd like to draw
25 the attention of Defence counsel on this. The Prosecutor alleges in
1 paragraph 9 - I quote in English: "At all times relevant to this
2 indictment, a state of international armed conflict and partial
3 occupation existed in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the territory
4 of the former Yugoslavia."
5 [Interpretation] I also recall that in the introduction of the
6 indictment, there is a mention of an armed conflict between the forces of
7 the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and the government of the Republic
8 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but this conflict is not described or qualified in
9 paragraph 3, [In English] "in an armed conflict." [Interpretation] But
10 in the general allegations, Prosecution describes or qualifies the
11 situation as being a conflict or - this is rather subtle - said that [In
12 English] "armed conflict existed in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
13 [Interpretation] This being said, the indictment mentions in
14 paragraph 14 in clear terms that these general allegations, general
15 allegations contained in paragraph 9 through 14, are incorporated into
16 each of the charges set forth in the indictment.
17 The charges: There are 25 -- no, sorry, 21 charges. Yes, 21
18 charges, which are within the province of Rule 2 and 3 of the Tribunal's
19 Statute, which is to say serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of
20 1949, as this is for Article 2 of the Statute, and Article 3, Laws and
21 Customs of War.
22 This roughly covers the indictment, corresponds to the
23 indictment. Therefore, if Defence counsel wishes to ask any question at
24 this stage, I invite you to take the floor if you want to discuss any
1 MS. LINDSAY: I have no questions, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
3 Does the Prosecution have any question to ask or any matter to
4 discuss at this stage?
5 MR. SCOTT: No, Your Honour. Thank you very much.
6 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. So I now
7 invite the court deputy to give us a date -- fix a date within the next
8 30 coming days for a new opportunity given to Mr. Bralo to enter a plea
9 on each count of the indictment and the crimes alleged.
10 And before I adjourn this hearing, I would like to tell -- ask
11 Mr. Bralo how his health is, whether he needs any treatment, any specific
12 treatment or medical help.
13 Mr. Bralo, may I hear you on this point.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. I'm entirely
15 healthy. Thank you very much.
16 JUDGE EL MAHDI: [Interpretation] Thank you so much. You can sit
18 Therefore, I think we have no other business today and,
19 therefore, the hearing is adjourned. Thank you very much.
20 --- Whereupon the Initial Appearance adjourned
21 at 4.38 p.m.