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Vladimir Kovacevic Declared Unfit to Stand Trial

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 12 April 2006


The Trial Chamber in the case Prosecutor v. Vladimir Kovacevic has today issued a decision finding the accused unfit to stand trial.

The Chamber found that "the accused does not have the capacity to enter a plea and stand trial, without prejudice to any future criminal proceedings against him should his mental health condition change." This means that, if it is determined at a future date that Vladimir Kovacevic is fit to stand trial, criminal proceedings against him could be reinstated.

Vladimir Kovacevic, former Commander of the Third Battalion of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) 472 (Trebinje) Motorised Brigade is charged with his involvement in the attack against the historic city of Dubrovnik in Croatia in 1991. Specifically, Kovacevic is charged with murder, cruel treatment, attacks on civilians, devastation not justified by military necessity, unlawful
attacks on civilian objects as well as destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity, and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science committed in the attack on 6 December 1991.

Vladimir Kovacevic was arrested on 25 September 2003 in Serbia, but his transfer to the Tribunal was delayed until 23 October 2003 due to his medical condition. Due to the same medical condition, the accused was unable to enter a plea on the charges against him. Upon the request of the defence, on 2 June 2004, the Trial Chamber ordered that Vladimir Kovacevic be provisionally
released for six months to receive medical treatment in Serbia and Montenegro. On 2 December 2004, the Chamber extended the accused's provisional release until further notice.

In the meantime, the Chamber ordered a number of medical reports and carefully considered all of them. In reaching its decision, the Chamber found that the accused does not have the capacity to plead, to understand the nature of the charges, to understand the course of proceedings, to understand the details of the evidence, to instruct counsel, to understand the consequences of
proceedings, and to testify.

Since its inception in 1993, the Tribunal has charged 161 persons for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. To date, proceedings against 90 persons have concluded. Six indicted persons remain at large.


The full text of the Decision is available on the Tribunal's website

Courtroom proceedings can be followed on the Tribunal's website