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Kunarac case: a Pre-Trial Judge is appointed in order to speed up the proceedings.

Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)




The Hague, 22 June 1998




With the clear intention of enforcing the accused’s right to an expeditious trial and of speeding up the cases before them, on 18 June the Judges of Trial Chamber II (Judge Cassese, presiding, Judge May and Judge Mumba) decided, with the agreement of the parties, to appoint one of them as the pre-trial Judge in the case of Dragoljub Kunarac (Gagovic and others case).

This is the first time ever that such a measure is taken. The institution of a pre-trial Judge is likely to be formalized in the new version of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence discussed by the Judges.

Such a provision should address the concern of the length of pre-trial detention of accused caused by the continuously increasing case-load.

It should be recalled that the three Judges seating in the Kunarac case are currently involved in six cases (Dokmanovic, Kovacevic, Furundzija, Kupreskic, Kunarac and Krnojelac cases).

The Chamber’s order

The Trial Chamber’s order was issued in the case of Dragoljub Kunarac (one of the eight individuals named in the Gagovic and others Indictment) who voluntarily surrendered on 4 March 1998. The order was based on provisions of Article 21(4)(c) of the Statute, which guarantees the accused’s right "to be tried without undue delay" and Article 20(1) which enshrines the
right to a fair and expeditious trial. The Trial Chamber then considered that "[…] it is in the interest of justice and of a more expeditious and effectively managed trial to appoint a pre-trial Judge to be responsible for pre-trial matters on behalf of the Trial Chamber […]".

The Trial Chamber also relied on the agreement of the parties, stating that it had heard "the parties at a status conference held on 20 April 1998 on the appointment of a pre-trial Judge and […] the agreement of the parties to the appointment of Judge Florence Ndepele Mwachande Mumba as a pre-trial Judge in this matter".

The pre-trial Judge

The pre-trial Judge will conduct, after the initial appearance hearing and until the beginning of the trial, pre-trial proceedings and matters, making thus unnecessary the holding of hearings before the full Chamber. The pre-trial Judge will be empowered to rule on pre-trial motions, save preliminary motions, and will make sure that unnecessary delays are avoided. The pre-trial
Judge will constantly report to his or her fellow members of the Chamber, which retains the overall control over the case.