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The Hague, 13 October 2011
Trial Chamber Denies Prosecution’s Request to Sever Mladić’s Indictment
The Trial Chamber today denied the Prosecution’s request to sever the indictment against Ratko Mladić, but granted its motion to add to the charges the crimes committed in the village of Bišina, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Chamber found that granting the Prosecution’s motion, filed on 16 August, to conduct two separate trials against the former commander of Bosnian Serb forces, could prejudice the Accused, render the trial less manageable and less efficient, and risk unduly burdening witnesses.
The Prosecution requested that the indictment be severed into two separate ones; one pertaining to the crimes committed in Srebrenica following the fall of the enclave in July 1995, and the second pertaining to Sarajevo and other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as hostage taking, arguing that this would be in the interest of justice and efficiency of the trial.
The Chamber recognised that there is a considerable interest within both the victim and international community in having a judgement issued expeditiously on the crimes alleged in the indictment. However it found that severing the indictment would not make the trial more manageable and that “conducting two trials instead of one could also be considerably less efficient”.
Furthermore, the Chamber found that severing the indictment could prejudice the Accused. “Participating in the pre-trial preparations of one case while simultaneously participating in the judgement or appeal stage of the first trial could unfairly overburden the Accused and limit his ability to participate effectively in either,” reads the decision.
The Chamber also considered the negative impact severing the indictment would have on witnesses, specifying that many of them would have to testify twice especially when presenting evidence relating to the acts and conduct of the Accused. “The calling of witnesses in multiple trials is a trial management concern, but is also a concern as to the witnesses themselves,” the Chamber found, noting the potential disruptive effect this could have on their daily lives, work and family matters.
Regarding the Prosecution’s submission that severance would address unforeseen circumstances should Mladić’s health deteriorate, the Chamber found the arguments in this respect to be “speculative and unsubstantiated.” The Chamber noted that such claims were not substantiated by medical documentation and stressed that “it could not base its findings on media reports or other such sources”.
Granting the Prosecution’s request to include the Bišina crime to the indictment, the Chamber ordered that a third amended indictment be filed within seven days of the decision. A further appearance will be held at the next Status Conference on Thursday, 10 November 2011, to enable the Accused to enter a plea on the new charge.
In a separate decision issued today, the Trial Chamber dismissed the Defence motion objecting on the form of the indictment due to insufficient identification of victims, perpetrators, dates and locations. The Chamber found that it is not necessary for the Prosecution to specify further details in the indictment but if they have such details they should provide them to the Defence. The Chamber instructed the Prosecution to file a list with identifying information of the victims in the case by 1 November 2011.
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International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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