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
Case No: IT-97-24-AR73
Date: 2 July 1998
IN THE APPEALS CHAMBER
Before: Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (Presiding)
Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen
Judge Wang Tieya
Judge Rafael Nieto-Navia
Judge Almiro Simôes Rodrigues
Registrar: Mrs. Dorothee de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh
Decision of: 2 July 1998
DECISION STATING REASONS FOR APPEALS CHAMBERS ORDER OF
29 MAY 1998
Office of the Prosecutor:
Ms. Brenda Hollis
Mr. Michael Keegan
Counsel for the Accused:
Mr. Dusan Vucicevic
Mr. Anthony DAmato
1. The Prosecutor sought leave before 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") to appeal against a decision of Trial Chamber II refusing her leave to amend an indictment by the addition of fourteen counts to an original single count. By Order dated 29 May 1998, the appeal was allowed. The Order indicated that the reasons for allowing the appeal would be put in writing in due course. This Decision sets forth those reasons.
2. In the original Indictment ("Indictment") against the accused Milan Kovacevic, confirmed by Judge Odio-Benito on 13 March 1997, Mr. Kovacevic was charged with a single violation of Article 4, sub-paragraph (3)(e), of the Statute of the International Tribunal ("Statute"), complicity in genocide. At the confirmation hearing on the same date, the Deputy Prosecutor explained that, while the Indictment contained only one count, the Office of the Prosecutor ("prosecution") intended to amend the Indictment to include other charges in the event of an arrest. The accused was arrested and transferred to the custody of the International Tribunal on 10 July 1997. At the Initial Appearance held on 30 July 1997, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge of complicity in genocide.
3. The defence was first notified of the prosecutions intention to amend the Indictment on 11 July 1997, during the first meeting between the defence and prosecution. The defence then filed a Motion to Clarify Standards Implicit in Rule 50 Regarding Amendment on Indictment on 10 September 1997, to which the prosecution responded on 24 September 1997. In its Decision on this Motion, the Trial Chamber, on 1 October 1997, held that the issues involved were to be considered in Plenary. Rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence ("Rules") was subsequently amended in Plenary, and became effective on 12 November 1997.
4. The matter of amendment of the Indictment was further addressed at a motions hearing before the Trial Chamber on 10 October 1997, where the Presiding Judge noted that the Indictment was to be amended "in due course, whatever that may mean". Pointing out that the composition of the Trial Chamber was to be altered, he observed that this was a matter that would be dealt with by the new Trial Chamber to be constituted in November. On this occasion the prosecution indicated that there was a possibility that the envisaged amendment would include "a more substantive charge" which would need to be supported by additional materials.
5. During a status conference before the Trial Chamber in its new composition, on 24 November 1997, the prosecution confirmed its intention to seek an amendment to the Indictment and declared that it would be in a position to do so on 19 December 1997. However, expressing concern that the medical condition of the accused might be such that going through the process of seeking leave to amend the Indictment would prove to be irrelevant, the prosecution expressed its preference for this matter be considered only after a decision had been reached on a pending application for provisional release filed by the defence. The prosecution further declared that, in its amendment, it would be seeking to include not only the genocide count, but also charges of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Neither the Bench nor the defence responded to this latter statement. The Trial Chamber on this occasion decided not to timetable anything beyond the application for provisional release, and declared that depending on the outcome of that decision it would then go on to timetable the prosecution motion to amend the Indictment, if filed, in the new year. On 16 January 1998, the Trial Chamber rejected the defences application for provisional release, and ordered the prosecution to file its motion to amend the Indictment by 28 January 1998.
6. The full scope of the amendment to the Indictment became apparent on 28 January 1998, when the prosecution filed its Request for Leave to file an Amended Indictment ("Request"). The draft Amended Indictment seeks to add fourteen additional counts to the single count of complicity in genocide. These new counts would cover Articles 2, 3, and 5 of the Statute and are based on expanded factual allegations. While the original Indictment is 8 pages in length, the proposed Amended Indictment is 18 pages.
7. On 5 March 1998, the Trial Chamber issued the Decision on Prosecutions Request to File an Amended Indictment ("Decision"), pursuant to Rules 50 and 73(A) of the Rules, refusing the prosecutions Request. The Trial Chamber found the amendments to be so substantial as to amount to a new indictment. In its view, to accept the Amended Indictment would be to substitute a new indictment for the confirmed Indictment at the stage of the proceedings when the trial was set to begin on 11 May 1998. The Trial Chamber found that the prosecution produced insufficient reasons that do not justify its delay in bringing the Request nearly one year after confirmation and seven months after the arrest of the accused. The Trial Chamber decided to deny the Request, in order to protect the rights of the accused to be informed promptly of the charges against him, and to be accorded a fair and expeditious trial, as well as in the interests of justice.
8. Noting that the defence had no objection to the prosecutions request for interlocutory review of the Trial Chambers Decision, on 22 April 1998, a Bench of the Appeals Chamber, in the Decision on Application for Leave to Appeal by the Prosecution ("Decision on Application") granted leave to appeal. The Appeals Chamber decided to hear the appeal "expeditiously on the basis of the original record of the Trial Chamber and without the necessity of any written brief . . . and without oral hearing".
9. On 1 May 1998, the prosecution submitted a Brief in Support of Prosecutors Application for Leave to Appeal From the Trial Chambers Denial of the Prosecutors Request for Leave to File an Amended Indictment. A Defence Reply to Prosecutors Brief in Support of Leave to Appeal was filed on 5 May 1998.
B. Submissions of the Parties
10. The prosecution submits that the Decision is contrary to the standards set down by international human rights law with respect to reasonable delay. It contends that the pre-trial detention in the present case does not violate international standards under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR") or regional standards under the European Convention on Human Rights ("ECHR").
11. In the view of the prosecution, Article 21, sub-paragraph (4)(c) of the Statute should be interpreted in the light of Article 14(3)(c) of the ICCPR because the former was based almost verbatim on the latter. The prosecution submits that a commentary to the ICCPR states that "undue delay" or "reasonable time" under Article 14(3)(c) "depends on the circumstances and complexity of the case".
12. The prosecution submits that the Trial Chamber erred in law by holding that the right of the accused to be informed promptly of the charges against him would be infringed by allowing leave to amend the Indictment. It asserts that the Trial Chamber misapplied Article 9 of the ICCPR in coming to this conclusion.
13. The prosecution submits that the decisions of the European Commission and of the European Court of Human Rights interpreting Articles 5(3) and 6(1) of the ECHR establish that the judiciary must determine the meaning and requirements of the phrase "within a reasonable time" according to the specific circumstances of the case at hand. With respect to Article 5(3), the prosecution finds in the jurisprudence the following essential factors that the court must consider: "the complexity and special characteristics of the investigation; the conduct of the accused; the manner in which the investigation was conducted; the actual length of detention; the length of detention on remand in relation to the nature of the offence; and the penalty prescribed and to be expected in the case of conviction". With respect to the interpretation of "within a reasonable time" in Article 6(1), the prosecution finds in the settled law the following criteria: the "complexity of the case, the manner in which the investigation was conducted, the conduct of the accused relating to his role in delaying the proceedings and his request for release, the conduct of judicial authorities, and the length of proceedings".
14. The prosecution submits that the Trial Chamber arrived at the Decision on the basis of expediency to maintain a starting date for trial of 11 May 1998, rather than by looking at the merits of the Prosecutions Request to File an Amended Indictment. The prosecution argues that Article 20 of the Statute guarantees both parties a fair and expeditious trial, and that the Trial Chamber did not consider the harm to the prosecutions case caused by the Decision. The prosecution claims that the Decision forces it "to proceed to trial on a single charge of complicity in genocide which does not accurately reflect the totality of the alleged conduct of the accused", and "without any options to account for the contingencies of proof at trial, despite the fact that the evidence submitted with the Amended Indictment establish[es] [what it considers to be] a prima facie case against the accused" for violations other than complicity in genocide.
15. The prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber erred by not affording it an opportunity to present additional material in support of the delay in submitting the request for leave to amend. The prosecution further claims that the Trial Chamber erred in failing to determine whether any of the proposed charges in the Amended Indictment could have been confirmed without resulting in undue delay of the scheduled trial date.
16. The defence submits that the prosecution should not be permitted to amend the Indictment by adding 14 new counts ten and a half months after confirmation of the Indictment. It is the position of the defence that the "Prosecution deliberately chose to withhold the addition of these counts until 28 January 1998". The defence claims that Article 9(2) of the ICCPR is applicable in this case and entitles Mr. Kovacevic to full disclosure of the reasons for his arrest and prompt disclosure of the charges against him. The defence argues that the accused was denied his right to be fully and promptly informed of the case against him because the prosecution did not reveal the 14 additional charges against the accused until six and a half months after his arrest. The defence contends that the prosecution behaved in an opportunistic fashion that is in clear violation of international human rights principles under the ICCPR.
17. The defence submits that the delay is ipso facto undue and unreasonable because the Trial Chamber found that the prosecution had no legitimate reason for the delay in amending the Indictment. It is the position of the defence that the delay by the prosecution in amending the Indictment is due to the prosecutions strategic manoeuvring. The defence alleges that not only did the prosecution purposely delay disclosing the new charges to the accused, but that it withheld these charges from the accused in an effort to obtain his co-operation against other persons. In its submissions to the Trial Chamber, the defence asserted that it would require seven months to prepare its case if the new charges were to be added. The Trial Chamber accepted this assertion. The defence submits that the resulting delay of trial would violate the accuseds right to be tried without undue delay.
18. The defence asserts that the prosecutions supporting materials do not give rise to a prima facie case, given that certain elements of the prosecutions case have not been proved, including the intent on the part of the accused to participate in a plan to commit genocide, and the position of the accused as a civilian in the chain of command of the military and police forces.
C. Applicable Provisions
19. It is appropriate to set out in relevant parts the applicable provisions of the Statute and the Rules of the International Tribunal, as well as certain provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Commencement and conduct of trial proceedings
1. The Trial Chamber shall ensure that a trial is fair and expeditious and that proceedings are conducted in accordance with the rules of procedure and evidence, with full respect for the rights of the accused and due regard for the protection of victims and witnesses.
2. A person against whom an indictment has been confirmed shall, pursuant to an order or an arrest warrant of the International Tribunal, be taken into custody, immediately informed of the charges against him and transferred to the International Tribunal.
3. The Trial Chamber shall read the indictment, satisfy itself that the rights of the accused are respected, confirm that the accused understands the indictment, and instruct the accused to enter a plea. The Trial Chamber shall then set a date for trial.
Rights of the accused
2. In the determination of charges against him, the accused shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing, subject to article 22 of the Statute
4. In the determination of an charge against the accused pursuant to the present Statute, the accused shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:
(a) to be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
(c) to be tried without undue delay;
Amendment of Indictment
(A) The Prosecutor may amend an indictment, without leave, at any time before its confirmation, but thereafter, until the initial appearance of the accused before a Trial Chamber pursuant to Rule 62, only with leave of the Judge who confirmed it. At or after such initial appearance amendment of an indictment may only be made by motion before that Trial Chamber pursuant to Rule 73. If leave to amend is granted, Rule 47(G) and Rule 53 bis apply mutatis mutandis to the amended indictment.
(B) If the amended indictment includes new charges and the accused has already appeared before a Trial Chamber in accordance with Rule 62, a further appearance shall be held as soon as practicable to enable the accused to enter a plea on the new charges.
(C) The accused shall have a further period of sixty days in which to file preliminary motions pursuant to Rule 72 in respect of the new charges and, where necessary, the date for trial may be postponed to ensure adequate time for the preparation of the defence.
Rule 59 bis
Transmission of Arrest Warrants
(B) At the time of being taken into custody an accused shall be informed immediately, in a language the accused understands, of the charges against him or her and of the fact that he or she is being transferred to the Tribunal. Upon such transfer, the indictment and a statement of the rights of the accused shall be read to the accused and the accused shall be cautioned in such a language.
Initial Appearance of Accused
Upon the transfer of an accused to the seat of the Tribunal, the President shall forthwith assign the case to a Trial Chamber. The accused shall be brought before that Trial Chamber without delay, and shall be formally charged. The Trial Chamber shall:
(i) satisfy itself that the right of the accused to counsel is respected;
(ii) read or have the indictment read to the accused in a language the accused speaks and understands, and satisfy itself that the accused understands the indictment;
(iii) call upon the accused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty on each count; should the accused fail to do so, enter a plea of not guilty on the accused's behalf;
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of persons. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:
(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;
(c) To be tried without undue delay.
1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. [...]
3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
20. In sum, the motion for leave to amend was refused on the general ground that to allow the amendments would prejudice the right of the accused to a fair and expeditious trial, and, more particularly, because of the following reasons:
21. First, the new counts involved an unacceptable increase in the size of the original Indictment. Secondly, they led to undue delay. Thirdly, the accused was not informed promptly of the additional charges. Before this Chamber, the defence raised the point whether the addition of the new counts was barred by the speciality principle of extradition law.
These four points are dealt with below.
i). Whether the size of the proposed amendments was objectionable
22. As to the first ground on which leave to amend was refused, the Trial Chamber found that the new "counts cover Articles 2, 3, and 4 of the Statute, and are based on substantially expanded factual allegations", and that "[t]he proposed amendment ... is so substantial as to amount to a substitution of a new indictment". It noted that the amendments would add fourteen counts to one original, and would increase the length of the Indictment from 8 pages to 18.
23. This Chamber sees no sufficient reason to reject the substance of the explanation of the Prosecutor that the "expansion of the indictment from 8 to 18 pages, referred to by the Trial Chamber, is merely due to the organisational layout of the document, which repeats many of the same facts in the prefatory paragraphs for each group of counts". But for that editorial approach, a shorter document would have been produced.
24. No doubt, size can be taken into account in considering whether any injustice would be caused to the accused; but, provided other relevant requirements are met, a court would be slow to deny the prosecution a right to amend on that ground only. The Trial Chamber did not consider whether any possible injustice arising from size could be remedied by disallowing only some of the amendments, in which case, the prosecution could have been asked to indicate its preferences: it rejected the whole.
25. In the circumstances of the case, this Chamber is not satisfied that the size of the amendments was objectionable.
ii). Whether the amendments would cause undue delay
26. The second ground of refusal was undue delay. Some domestic systems impose stricter limits than those enjoined by internationally recognised standards. It is the latter which apply to proceedings before the International Tribunal. Does any basis appear for saying that these latter standards would be violated by granting the requested amendments?
27. The accused spent six and a half months in detention before the prosecution filed its motion for leave to amend the Indictment. The trial was due to take place three and half months later. If the motion was granted, the defence would need seven months to prepare in respect of the new changes. How long the trial will take is not something to be considered at this stage.
28. The question faced by the Appeals Chamber is whether the additional time which the granting of the motion for leave to amend would occasion is reasonable in the light of the right of the accused to a fair and expeditious trial, as enshrined under Article 20, paragraph 1, and Article 21, sub-paragraph 4(c), of the Statute. These statutory provisions mirror the protections offered under Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee shows that the question of what constitutes an undue delay turns on the circumstances of the particular case.
29. In the case at hand, although the details were not given and the exact size of the amendments was not conveyed, from the beginning of the proceedings the prosecution did indicate its intention to amend the Indictment, by adding new counts. In subsequent motion hearings, the prosecution raised the issue of setting a suitable date for the Trial Chamber to hear the prosecutions motion for leave to amend. The prosecution submitted that it would be better to wait until after the Trial Chamber had disposed of the provisional release motion brought by the defence. The defence made no objection to this submission. The Trial Chamber agreed with the prosecutions submission and scheduled the motions accordingly.
30. The right of an accused to be informed promptly of the nature and cause of the charges against him, enshrined in similar terms in Article 6(3)(a) of the ECHR, Article 14(3)(a) of the ICCPR and Article 21, sub-paragraph 4(a) of the Statute of the International Tribunal, constitutes one element of the general requirement of fairness that is a fundamental aspect of a right to a fair trial. The following common general principles which may be derived from the practice of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to Article 6 of the ECHR provides some guidance as to how to interpret the requirements set out in Article 21, sub-paragraphs 4 (a) and (c) of the Tribunals Statute: firstly, that the accuseds right to be informed promptly of the charges against him has to be assessed in the light of the general requirement of fairness to the accused; secondly, that the information provided to the accused must enable him to prepare an effective defence; thirdly, that the accused must be tried without undue delay; and fourthly, that the requirement must be interpreted according to the special features of each case. This is consistent with the provisions of the Statute, which in Article 21, sub-paragraph 2 provides that all accused are entitled to a fair and public hearing, and thereafter in sub-paragraph 4 sets out the right of the accused to be informed promptly of the charge against him, and to be tried without undue delay, as part of the specific minimum guarantees necessary to ensure that this general requirement of fairness is met.
31. As it relates to the present Appeal, the timeliness of the Prosecutors request for leave to amend the Indictment must thus be measured within the framework of the overall requirement of the fairness of the proceedings. Based upon the estimates of the defence, which were accepted by the Trial Chamber, it would take an additional seven months for the defence to prepare to defend against the charges in the Amended Indictment. Considering the complexity of the case, the omission of the defence to object to the prosecutions motion to schedule consideration of the request for leave to amend the Indictment until after the motion for provisional release had been decided, and the Trial Chambers decision accepting the prosecutions proposal, the extension of the proceedings, even by a period of seven months, would not constitute undue delay and would afford the accused a fair trial.
32. There is one other aspect of this branch. Delay which is substantial would be undue if it occurred because of any improper tactical advantage sought by the prosecution. Was such advantage sought?
33. In replying to the prosecutions application for leave to appeal, the accused asserted that the prosecution had been deferring its request for the amendment in order to compel the accused to grant an interview to the prosecution, to obtain his co-operation against other persons, and to change his plea. The prosecution did not reply to that complaint. But the complaint had not been made before the Trial Chamber even though, before that Chamber, prosecuting counsel had volunteered, as one of the reasons for not earlier applying for leave to amend, that the prosecution "had a question of whether the accused was going to submit to an interrogation, which he ultimately chose not to do, which is his right, but that would also affect the question of when to bring forth an amendment". In its Decision, the Trial Chamber did not mention any complaint by the accused that the prosecution was seeking a tactical advantage, and did not found its holding on that point. In the circumstances, this Chamber would not give effect to the allegation of the defence that an improper advantage was being sought by the prosecution.
iii). Whether there was a failure to disclose the new charges promptly
34. As to the third ground of refusal, the defence argues that, where the prosecution brings an indictment for only some of the charges which it was then in a position to bring, the other charges are charges which it is required promptly then to disclose to the defence by reason of Article 9(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that, not having done so, it is prohibited from later seeking an amendment of the Indictment for the purpose of including them. In contrast, the prosecution regards Article 9 of the ICCPR as having "absolutely no application to the issues at hand". In its view neither the Statute and Rules of the International Tribunal, nor Articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR, require that an indicted person be promptly informed of charges for which he has not been indicted. Pointing out that the accused upon his arrest was immediately notified of the basis for the arrest and served with a copy of the confirmed Indictment, the prosecution asserts that the completion of that process satisfied the requirements of Article 9(2) and ended its application.
35. The authorities relied upon by the defence in support of its position that allowing the prosecution leave to amend the Indictment would contravene Article 9(2) are not applicable, for in each a violation was found because of the failure to charge a person with any crime at the time of their arrest. In Moriana Hernándes Valentini de Bazzano (Communication No. 5/1977), Martha Valentini de Massera was arrested on 28 January 1976, but was charged only in September 1976, after spending nearly eight months in prison. In Leopoldo Buffo Carballal (Communication No. 33/1978), the complainant was arrested in Argentina on 4 January 1976, and was handed over to members of the Uruguayan Navy who later transferred him to Montevideo. He was not informed of any charges brought against him and remained detained until 26 January 1977. In Alba Pietraroia (Communication No. 44/1979), the Committee found that Rossario Pietraroia Zapala was arrested without an arrest warrant in early 1976 and held incommunicado for four to six months. He was not charged until his trial began on 10 August 1976. In Monja Jaona (Communication No. 132/1982), the Committee found that Monja Jaona was put under house arrest on 15 December 1982, without any explanation being given, and subsequently detained until 15 August 1983. In Glenford Campbell v. Jamaica (Communication No. 248/1987) a violation of Article 9(2) was found because of the failure to formally charge Mr. Campbell with any crime until over one month after he was arrested. None of these cases relied upon by the defence involved an arrest based on an indictment which was subsequently sought to be amended to add new charges.
36. Whatever the true meaning of "any" in Article 9(2) of the ICCPR, a point addressed by defence counsel, the Chamber does not accept that the requirement to inform an arrested person of any charges against him was breached in this case. Article 20, sub-paragraph 2 of the Statute of the International Tribunal is analogous to Article 9(2) of the ICCPR, requiring, however, that the person be "immediately informed of the charges against him". The Report of the Secretary-General submitting the draft Statute to the Security Council, referring to that Article, states that "[a] person against whom an indictment has been confirmed would ... be informed of the contents of the indictment and taken into custody". That is consistent with the view that what was visualised was that an arrested person would be promptly told of the charges contained in the indictment on the basis of which he was arrested. That was done in this case.
iv). Whether the requested amendments would breach a principle of speciality
37. The fourth and final point concerns the argument of the defence that there exists in customary international law a speciality principle which prohibits the prosecution of the accused on charges other than that on which he was arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovina and brought to The Netherlands. In the view of the Appeals Chamber, if there exists such a customary international law principle, it is associated with the institution of extradition as between states and does not apply in relation to the operations of the International Tribunal. That institution prohibits a state requesting extradition from prosecuting the extradited person on charges other than those alleged in the request for extradition. Obviously, any such additional prosecution could violate the normal sovereignty of the requested state. The fundamental relations between requested and requesting state have no counterpart in the arrangements relating to the International Tribunal.
For the reasons given, the Appeals Chamber considered that, in the circumstances of this case, the prosecution was entitled to leave to amend the Indictment by the addition of the new charges. The Appeals Chamber has not hereby determined whether a prima facie case has been established in relation to the charges added in the Amended Indictment, as required for its confirmation.
Done in both English and French, with the English text being authoritative.
Gabrielle Kirk McDonald
Judge Shahabuddeen appends a Separate Opinion to this Decision.
Dated this second day of July 1998
At The Hague,
[Seal of the Tribunal]