1 Thursday, 16 October 2008
2 [Status Conference]
3 [Open session]
4 [The appellant entered court]
5 [The appellant Sljivancanin not present]
6 --- Upon commencing at 3.00 p.m.
7 JUDGE MERON: Please be seated.
8 Registrar, would you please call the case.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Good afternoon to
10 everyone in the courtroom. This is case number IT-95-13/1-A, the
11 Prosecutor versus Mile Mrksic and Veselin Sljivancanin.
12 JUDGE MERON: Thank you. Let me begin by making sure that the
13 audio equipment is working.
14 Mr. Mrksic, can you hear the proceedings in a language you
16 THE APPELLANT MRKSIC: [Interpretation] Yes, I can hear.
17 JUDGE MERON: Counsel for Defence and the Prosecution, can you
18 all hear me? Thank you.
19 I would call now for appearances. Prosecution, please.
20 MR. ROGERS: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Paul Rogers appearing
21 with Ms. Kristina Carey and our case manager today, Alma Imamovic.
22 JUDGE MERON: Thank you, Mr. Rogers.
23 Counsel for Mr. Mrksic.
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour. Good
25 afternoon to everyone else in the courtroom. The Defence of Mr. Mrksic
1 today will be represented by Mr. Miroslav Vasic, that is to say, myself.
2 JUDGE MERON: Thank you, Mr. Vasic.
3 Counsel for Mr. Sljivancanin.
4 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour, and
5 everybody else taking part in these proceedings. Lead attorney
6 Novak Lukic is representing Mr. Sljivancanin today. Thank you.
7 JUDGE MERON: Thank you, Mr. Lukic.
8 As you are all aware, Rule 65 bis (B) of the Rules of Procedure
9 and Evidence require that Status Conferences be held every 120 days for
10 each appellant in the Tribunal's custody. A Status Conference serves two
11 primary purposes. First, it allows the appellant an opportunity to voice
12 concerns relating to his appeal or detention conditions. Second, it
13 provides an opportunity to update the appellants with respect to the
14 status of their case. The Status Conference is also an opportunity for
15 the Tribunal to inquire about the mental and physical condition of the
16 detained person.
17 The last Status Conference in this case took place on 19th June
18 2008. While Mr. Mrksic is presently in custody at the Tribunal's
19 detention unit, Mr. Sljivancanin is currently on provisional release
20 pursuant to a decision by the Appeals Chamber of 11 December 2007.
21 Let me begin the core of the Status Conference by inquiring into
22 Mr. Mrksic's health.
23 Mr. Mrksic, how are you doing health-wise? Everything is okay?
24 THE APPELLANT MRKSIC: [Interpretation] Thank you for asking,
25 Your Honour. For the moment, everything is all right. Of course, given
1 my age and my case history and everything, I had two heart operations but
2 I'm keeping well. Thank you.
3 JUDGE MERON: Thank you. Thank you. I'm glad to hear that.
4 Let me now update the case. I think the parties would benefit
5 from that.
6 The briefing for the appeals have now been completed, and public
7 redacted versions of all the briefs have been filed, save for
8 Mr. Sljivancanin's reply brief. However, it is my understanding that the
9 counsel is looking into that, and I would ask him to file a public
10 redacted version by the end of the day on Monday.
11 Any problem with that?
12 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, Judge Meron, we will
13 abide by that deadline, and I was going to suggest that we do file it by
14 Monday, and it will be. There was just a technical problem with respect
15 to the two different computer systems and so on, but it certainly will be
16 ready by Monday, yes.
17 JUDGE MERON: Thank you. I appreciate that.
18 Given the fact that briefings have been completed and this last
19 public redacted version will be in our hands by the end of the day on
20 Monday, I expect that the Appeals Chamber will schedule the appeal -- an
21 appeal hearing shortly, for the second half of January, second half of
22 January 2009.
23 It is also my understanding that a confidential motion was filed
24 yesterday by Mr. Mrksic pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure
25 and Evidence. The motion is incomplete, however, as it does not attach
1 the additional evidence which Mr. Mrksic is asking the Appeals Chamber to
2 admit. Therefore, I would request that Mr. Mrksic files a confidential
3 addendum, a confidential addendum to his motion containing the additional
4 evidence, and I would request that this confidential addendum be filed
5 also by the end of the day on Monday.
6 I see that Mr. Vasic has no problems with that. Correct?
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you, Your Honour. There
8 will be no problems.
9 JUDGE MERON: Thank you.
10 Now, we are all aware of the fact that the relevant
11 Practice Direction grants the Prosecution 30 days to file a response to
12 this type of motion. Now, in order to minimise delays, I would ask the
13 Prosecution to file its response within 15 days of the filing of
14 Mr. Mrksic's addendum to his Rule 115 motion, so that 15 days would start
15 running from the end of the day on Monday.
16 For the same reasons, I would ask the counsel for Mr. Mrksic to
17 file his reply, if any, within seven days of the filing of the
18 Prosecution's response.
19 On this issue, I suppose, I do hope that neither the Prosecution
20 nor the Defence for Mr. Mrksic have any problems with that.
21 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, we had anticipated the opportunity to
22 deal with the things in the fullness of the time available to us under
23 the Practice Direction. Plainly, as the entirety of the materials upon
24 which the Defence rely have not been filed with the motion, it's
25 difficult to anticipate precisely how long it will take, but in the
1 spirit of compromise may I ask Your Honour for 21 days in which to file?
2 It's down from the 30, but it gives us that little bit of extra time to
3 deal with things.
4 JUDGE MERON: You really think that you need that extra week?
5 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, if I didn't think we needed it, I
6 wouldn't ask for it.
7 JUDGE MERON: Okay, you will have it.
8 MR. ROGERS: I'm grateful.
9 JUDGE MERON: I'm afraid that now Mr. Vasic will reciprocate by
10 asking for some additional time.
11 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't think I'll have
12 any need to seek additional time. I hope that what my colleague files
13 will be succinct and that I'll be able to respond within seven days,
14 although he does have 21 days. But I do have another problem with
15 respect to this issue, and that is additional evidence that I received
16 from my learned colleagues and which I found in my locker just yesterday.
17 So quite possibly, they could fall within the framework of Rule 115 as
18 well, because I haven't had enough time to study them sufficiently, but
19 they are additional evidence and testimony by witnesses who testified in
20 the trial and that were of vital interest for the first instance
22 Unfortunately, I received an announcement that there'll be more
23 evidence waiting for me in The Hague
24 e-mail in Belgrade
25 to pick the material up. And I think I might find elements for applying
1 Rule 115, which will mean that I need an extension of the deadline for my
2 filing of additional evidence, because as I say, they were witnesses who
3 were crucial witnesses at the trial itself in the first instance, and
4 they were provided here, Your Honour, in another trial.
5 So I don't know, given those circumstances, how the plan stands,
6 the agreement we've just reached, in view of that.
7 JUDGE MERON: So let me understand. You are talking about
8 additional materials that you have received yesterday, and they are not
9 in -- covered by the motion you have already filed, and they have been
10 disclosed to you by the Prosecutor.
11 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, that's right.
12 JUDGE MERON: Well, you will -- you will, I'm sure, review these
13 materials, and if you see that you have to file an additional motion, if
14 they meet the requirements that you think that -- then do file that
15 motion and we will review the motion. I'm --
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE MERON: I am, to say the least, unhappy at the endless
18 dragging of additional things at this stage, but if interest of justice
19 requires it then so be it, and we will look at it.
20 This does not affect the conclusions we have reached now. If
21 there is another motion, we will establish what are the time limits that
22 have to be applied to it, whether the regular ones or time limits that we
23 would find it necessary to modify to speed up the process, but we will --
24 it's not yet, in fact, sure that you will find it necessary to submit
25 additional motion, so there is no need to -- to proceed with that now.
1 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, perhaps I can just assist you with the
2 nature of the material. It arises from the trial, ongoing trial in the
3 case of Seselj, as I'm sure Your Honour appreciates.
4 JUDGE MERON: I understand that.
5 MR. ROGERS: And we do, as Your Honour will remember from the
6 last Status Conference, but there was an element of criticism for saving
7 up witnesses to hand over to the Defence --
8 JUDGE MERON: Excuse me. Before you proceed, are these
9 confidential materials?
10 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, some of them are. I'm not going to
11 explain precisely what they.
12 JUDGE MERON: I just wanted to warn you not to mention things in
13 open court.
14 MR. ROGERS: No, no. I'm not going to. I'm not going to mention
15 any names, but simply just to explain the situation is that when we
16 receive the information from the trial teams, we assess it as quickly as
17 we can and we turn it over to the Defence as quickly as we can if it
18 meets the criteria under the rules for disclosure. So there's no -- this
19 isn't material we've been sitting on, if I can put it that way. It does
20 go out as quickly as we can and as soon as we receive it, so that
21 Your Honour understands.
22 JUDGE MERON: No, I understand.
23 MR. ROGERS: I'm grateful.
24 JUDGE MERON: I did not mean to attribute to you any kind of
25 dilatory tactics. I'm simply worried about the results that we are faced
1 with at the appeals stage with so many matters pertaining to Rule 115.
2 When I tell my colleagues from other courts, say in the United States,
3 that we have the 115, they say, "How can you -- how can you do that and
4 deal efficiently with appeals while admitting additional evidence at this
5 stage?" And I explain to them why we do need that. Still, it is
6 something that does not make our task easier, and we are trying to -- to
7 cope with that, and I do, because of that, appreciate the readiness of
8 both parties to limit the time -- times which are stated in the
9 Practice Direction.
10 At this point, I would like to ask the parties whether they have
11 any other issues that they would like to raise at this time.
12 Mr. Rogers, let me start with you.
13 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, yes. Again in the spirit of informing
14 all the parties for their best efforts to prepare, the Prosecution will
15 not be pursuing subground (2), that's error 2 under ground 1. In light
16 of the recent ruling in the case of Martic, the ground that relates to
17 definitions of civilians that appears under ground 1, subground (c), on
18 our brief, we will not be pursuing. Obviously the other grounds remain
19 live, and we would invite, and I've spoken to my learned friends already,
20 we would invite them, again in the spirit of defining the issues that
21 need to be dealt with on appeal, to review their response briefs and file
22 or notify the Court and us of any change to their positions arising from
23 the Martic judgement. I'm sure they need little time to reflect upon
24 that judgement, but it would assist everybody, including the Court in
25 particular, if we were able to confine and define the issues efficiently
1 and effectively, and I think it's over to the Defence now to indicate any
2 changes in their briefs should they so wish to do.
3 That's one issue. So far as --
4 JUDGE MERON: Before you proceed, I would like to have some
5 response as soon as possible from the -- from Mr. Vasic.
6 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Mr. Lukic and I did consider the matter before coming to this
8 Status Conference, and the Defence does have certain proposals which it
9 would like to put forward, and Mr. Lukic will deal with the matter on
10 behalf of both Defence teams, and he has written a motion on the subject.
11 JUDGE MERON: Okay. So we will be getting a motion on this
13 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I'll replace my colleague, Mr. Vasic.
14 I was going to address you orally, but if you would prefer to
15 have it in writing, that's what we will do. We'll follow your
17 We did have a discussion, my colleague Mr. Vasic and myself, a
18 moment ago before this Status Conference, and in light of what the
19 Prosecutor has just said, it is obvious that the Martic judgement
20 which -- the second instance which came several days ago and which deals
21 with certain topics and has grounds for the Prosecution appeal, gives a
22 new task to the Defence to look at these allegations in the first
23 instance judgement. It was our proposal, and I can present it orally
24 here, Your Honour, Judge Meron, and that is that the Defence be allowed,
25 in light of the conclusions, the legal conclusions from the Martic
1 judgement that the Defence be allowed to write an additional response to
2 the appeal in writing, and we would like to have a 21-day time limit for
3 that, and we'd be completely satisfied if we were to be allowed to use up
4 to 6.000 words for that. And fully conscious of the fact that all the
5 submissions have already been handed in which relate to the appeals, the
6 replies and so on, that we be allowed to have additional time for oral
7 arguments to be presented, and in them we would deal with what the
8 precedent has to say in light of the second instance Martic judgement.
9 So in that sense it would mean a lot if we could be given 45
10 minutes more time than the time specified for oral arguments so that we
11 can state our views in respect of that and in respect of the Martic
12 judgement. And I would just like to mention that both Defence teams are
13 still studying the Martic judgement and we haven't defined our positions
14 yet quite clearly, but in any case, I think that we would like to present
15 additional arguments in light of the judgement. Thank you.
16 JUDGE MERON: Okay. Let's take the question of the supplemental
17 document first, submission first. I would like on that a motion from you
18 requesting that, because I may want to consult on that with my colleagues
19 on the Bench, and I would -- I'm wondering whether you could have that
20 motion, adjust that motion by the end of the day tomorrow?
21 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I'd be very grateful to you,
22 Judge Meron, if you were to set the time for Monday, because my
23 co-counsel is absent, but he will be here tomorrow. So may we be allowed
24 to take until Monday, please?
25 JUDGE MERON: Yes. I will -- in this case, perhaps by midday
1 Monday? Okay. With regards --
2 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Certainly. Thank you.
3 JUDGE MERON: Thanks. As regards the other question, namely of
4 additional time for the oral argument, we will consider that in preparing
5 the Scheduling Order. I think it's a bit early now, before I know what
6 are the additional points you would like to argue, and it may very well
7 be that if we allow a supplemental brief, that this will cover it enough.
8 But in any event, I don't want to go into that now. When we prepare --
9 when we work on the Scheduling Order, we will take this question into
10 consideration. Okay?
11 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Yes, indeed. Thank you.
12 JUDGE MERON: Now, as I see -- I see there is close coordination
13 between Mr. Vasic and Mr. Lukic, so I'll -- I suppose they don't have any
14 additional issues to raise at this stage.
15 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour, none. Thank you.
16 No, Your Honour.
17 MR. ROGERS: Your Honour, forgive me, before you move on.
18 JUDGE MERON: Yes.
19 MR. ROGERS: If I may.
20 JUDGE MERON: Sure.
21 MR. ROGERS: There was just one other matter I wanted to raise
22 with you.
23 JUDGE MERON: Oh, yes. I am terribly sorry. I did not come back
24 to you.
25 MR. ROGERS: Not at all. Your Honour, it's relating to the
1 hearing date. Firstly, we're very grateful for the indication that
2 you've been able to give so far today, but may I ask if -- because
3 understanding the Tribunal's practice, certainly from the
4 Appeals Chamber, to provide questions to the parties, such matters that
5 concern the members of the panel that will be hearing the case, given the
6 Christmas break that is approaching and to enable us all to effectively
7 work through the period in order to prepare fully to assist the Court at
8 the hearing, might I ask that the Scheduling Order come out in good time
9 before Christmas with the questions that the Court wishes to raise so
10 that the parties, not just ourselves but the Defence as well, can focus
11 their resources, if we like, on -- on issues that are most troubling the
12 Appeals Chamber? And I'm just conscious that if an order were to come
13 very shortly before the Christmas period, those resources may not be best
14 utilised. I'm sure the Court, wishing to ensure efficiency, will do its
15 best to provide the parties with as much notice as possible to enable the
16 effective preparation of the case for hearing.
17 So might I invite the Court, if possible, to provide its
18 Scheduling Order with its questions in perhaps the first week, if I may
19 ask, of December or thereabouts so that we can prepare and allocate
20 resources appropriately.
21 JUDGE MERON: Thank you.
22 [Trial Chamber and legal officer confer]
23 JUDGE MERON: Mr. Rogers, I have listened very carefully to your
24 point, and I am -- I am receptive to the idea. We will do our best. If
25 we cannot issue the Scheduling Order, including the questions, the first
1 week of December, we certainly will do that during the second, as early
2 as possible during the second week of December.
3 MR. ROGERS: I'm very grateful. Thank you.
4 JUDGE MERON: I think that we have exhausted everything which was
5 on our agenda for this afternoon, and if there are no matters, and there
6 are no further matters, I understand, that the Prosecution or the counsel
7 for the Defence would like to raise, we will now rise and the meeting is
9 --- Whereupon the Status Conference adjourned
10 at 3.26 p.m.