Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
CC/PIO/269-E The Hague, 2 December 1997
TENTATIVE TRIAL DATE SET FOR MONDAY 19 JANUARY 1998
On Friday 28 November 1997, Trial Chamber II - consisting of Judge Antonio Cassese (Presiding), Judge Richard May and Judge Florence Mumba- handed down a series of Orders paving the way to the trial of Accused Slavko DOKMANOVIC.
In the custody of the International Tribunal since 27 June 1997, Slavko DOKMANOVIC was indicted jointly with Mile MRKSIC, Miroslav RADIC and Veselin SLJIVANCANIN on 3 April 1996 in respect of certain alleged crimes connected with the fall of the town of Vukovar in 1991.
Tentative trial date is set
During the closed Status Conference held on Thursday 27 November, both the Defence and the Prosecution indicated their readiness for trial. On Friday 28 November, Trial Chamber II ordered that "the trial of Slavko Dokmanovic shall commence on Monday 19 January 1998".
However, this trial date is "subject to written confirmation by the Registrar to both Parties to be made by 19 December 1997".
Accused to be tried separately from his co-accused
Noting that "none of the co-accused of Slavko Dokmanovic is in the custody of the tribunal nor appears to be in the process of being transferred to" it and considering that Article 21 (4)(c) of the Statute of he Tribunal enshrines the right of an accused "to be tried without undue delay", Trial Chamber II also ordered that "Slavko Dokmanovic be tried separately
from Mile Mrskic, Miroslav Radic and Veselin Sljivancanin (...)".
However, "the Trial Chamber may reconsider its decision", should the said co-accused come into the custody of the Tribunal before commencement of the trial of Slavko Dokmanovic.
Indictment is amended
In a third Order dated 28 November 1997, Trial Chamber II granted leave to the Prosecutor to amend the indictment issued on 7 November 1995 against Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic and Veselin Sljivancanin and amended on 3 April 1996 to add the name of Slavko Dokmanovic.
The main amendments concern the following (changes are indicated in italics):
1. The forced removal of persons from the Vukovar Hospital:
"Of the 300 or more persons taken from Vukovar Hospital on the morning of 20 November 1991, at least 200 were killed at Ovcara. More than fifty other men remain missing. All of these persons were alive after the end of the hostilities in Vukovar and all of them were taken under JNA guard first to the JNA barracks and then to the Ovcara farm. They have not
been seen alive since that time." (...)
2. The victims of the mass-killing at Ovcara:
- "This indictment charges individuals responsible for the mass-killing at Ovcara, near Vukovar, Croatia, of approximately 200 Croatian and other non-Serb persons who had been removed from Vukovar Hospital on 20 November 1991" .
- "In September and October 1996, the mass-grave at Ovcara was exhumed. The bodies of 198 men and two women were recovered from the gravesite (...).
- The list of names of the victims of the mass-killing would be altered so as to delete 10 names (5 persons were alive after the mass-killing, 5 died elsewhere) and to add 3 other names.
3. The identification of the military unit to which Mrksic, Radic and Sljivancanin were assigned: further investigation has revealed that they were in fact assigned to the "First Guards Motorised Brigade (instead of the "Guards Brigade") which formed the core component of the JNA’s Operational Group South. This Unit was commanded by Colonel Mile
4. The accused’s respective roles:
In the two relevant paragraphs, the Prosecution now states: "On about 20 November 1991, JNA and Serb paramilitary soldiers, aided and abetted by Slavko DOKMANOVIC, and under the command and supervision of Colonel Mile MRKSIC, Captain Miroslav RADIC and Major Veselin SLJIVANCANIN removed at least 200 non-Serb individuals from Vukovar Hospital and then transported them to a farm
building in Ovcara, where they beat them for several hours. Afterward, soldiers under the command or supervision of Mile MRKSIC, Miroslav RADIC, Veselin SLJIVANCANIN, and aided and abetted by Slavko DOKMANOVIC transported their non-Serb captives in groups of ten to twenty to a site between the Ovcara farm and Grabovo, where they were shot and otherwise killed them." (...)
5. The status and whereabouts of the accused persons:
- Mile Mrskic: "After the defeat of the ARSK by Croatian forces in August 1995, he retired from military service";
- Miroslav Radic: "After the battle of Vukovar, he left military service and entered into a private business in Serbia";
- Veselin Sljivancanin : after his promotion to the rank of Colonel he "was placed in command of a JA brigade in Podgorica, Montenegro. He is currently assigned to the Yugoslav Military Academy in Belgrade".
Measures for an "expeditious conduct and management of the trial"
In consultation with both the Defence and the Prosecution, Trial Chamber II ordered on Friday 28 November 1997 a series of measures "to assist in the expeditious conduct and management of the trial". Intended to help the Judges to prepare for the trial and to specify and, where possible, to narrow down the issues in dispute, these measures include:
- the transmission by 15 December 1997 to the Trial Chamber of "Witness statements and other documentary materials which will be relied on by the Parties", it being understood that "this material will not be regarded as evidence (...) until and unless submitted in the course of the trial";
- the filing by 15 December 1997 by the Prosecutor of a pre-trial brief "clarifying the allegations in the indictment, setting out in full the details of their case against Slavko Dokmanovi} and identifying the points in issue";
- the filing by 5 January 1998 by the Defence of a document "setting out those points, if any, in the amended indictment (...) which are admitted, those which are denied and the grounds for so doing, and setting out in general terms the defence to the indictment".
The above mentioned orders can be obtained from
the Press and Information Office upon request.