|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)||
The Hague, 26 April 2000
Initial appearance of Dragan Nikolic on Friday 28 April 2000.
Dragan Nikolic, who was transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Saturday 22 April 2000, is to appear before Judge David Hunt (Trial Chamber II) in order to enter a plea of not-guilty or guilty to the charges contained in his amended indictment, either immediately or within 30 days.
This "initial appearance" hearing will take place on Friday 28 April 2000 at 10 a.m.
BACKGROUND ON THE ACCUSED
According to the indictment issued against him, Nikolic was born on 26 April 1957 in Vlasenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina). A worker at an aluminium factory in Vlasenica, Nikolic became, in late May or early June 1992, the commander of "Susica", a detention camp established in a former military storage facility in Vlasenica by Serb forces, including JNA soldiers, paramilitary forces and local military soldiers, that had taken over the town, and run by the military and the local police militia.
Dragan Nikolic was the first individual indicted by the ICTY on 4 November 1994. Following failed attempts to serve the indictment on the accused and on the Bosnian Serb administration in Pale, the Prosecutor was invited to submit in open court the evidence supporting the indictment against Nikolic. Held in October 1995, this hearing was the first ever application of Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and resulted on 20 October 1995 in the first public confirmation of an indictment by Judges at the ICTY, and the first international arrest warrant issued against an accused. In addition, the Rule 61 hearing led directly to the first report of non-compliance to the Security Council by the President of the Tribunal.
BACKGROUND ON THE INDICTMENTS
The initial indictment charged Nikolic with crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for the persecution on political, racial and religious grounds of Muslim and non-Serb civilians, the killing of eight detainees, the torture of three others, and the illegal imprisonment of and other inhumane acts against Muslim and non-Serb civilians.
Dragan Nikolic has been charged on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (article 7(1) of the Tribunal’s Statute) for the alleged crimes charged against him as well as superior criminal responsibility (article 7(3) of the Statute) for acts allegedly committed by the guards subordinate to him.
Following the Rule 61 hearing of October 1995 (see above), the Prosecutor was invited to consider the filing of additional charges with regard to "rape and other forms of sexual assault inflicted on women" detained at Susica. The Prosecutor was also invited "to pursue his investigation…with a view to indicting Dragan Nikolic for complicity in genocide or acts of genocide".
On 16 November 1998, the Prosecutor filed a Motion for leave to amend the indictment and an amended indictment. This amended indictment was confirmed on 12 February 1999 by Judge Claude Jorda, who also granted the Prosecutor’s request for non-disclosure of the amended indictment "for a limited time period".
The amended indictment dropped some charges of inhuman treatment, unlawful confinement and imprisonment of civilians, and also of appropriation and plunder of private property. Nonetheless, it added eight cases of sexual assault, including rape. As a result, Nikolic is charged with 80 counts: 29 counts of crimes against humanity; 29 counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions; and 22 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. This represents the highest number of counts contained in a public indictment issued by the Tribunal so far.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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