Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 16

1 Friday, 19 July 2002

2 [Status Conference]

3 [Open session]

4 --- Upon commencing at 4.02 p.m.

5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated.

6 May we hear the case number, please.

7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon. This is Case Number IT-02-59-PT,

8 the Prosecutor versus Darko Mrdja.

9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please. For

10 the OTP?

11 MR. KOUMJIAN: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Nicholas Koumjian and

12 Katharina Margetts, assisted by Gina Butler for the Office of the

13 Prosecutor.

14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And for the Defence?

15 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: Good afternoon, my name is Vojislav

16 Dimitrijevic, attorney from Bosnia-Herzegovina. If you allow me, I

17 proceed in my language.

18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: In your language. Of course.

19 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.

20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.

21 Today, the Status Conference was conferred in order to find out

22 what is the actual state of the case. What about disclosure, the usual

23 issues. But then later on, we have to come to the problem of on how to

24 proceed in this case, the envisaged time limits, and so on.

25 So therefore, I would ask the representative of the Office of

Page 17

1 Prosecutor, the accused arrived, and the initial appearance took place the

2 17th of June, 2002. Have there been any problems with the material to be

3 disclosed to the other party?

4 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, on the 17th of July, the supporting

5 materials translated into the language of the accused, and also in

6 English, were delivered through the Office of the OLAD to the registry to

7 the accused. The additional disclosure feature would be additional

8 witness statements, Rule 68 material, which searches have begun. And just

9 a note, also a guide to the supporting material, we disclosed -- the

10 supporting material was redacted. In the supporting material, the judge

11 got redacted statements. We will provide the Defence counsel with

12 unredacted material, that is, including the name of the witness. We're

13 simply checking now with the witnesses to see if there's any particular

14 witness protection issues before we disclose those names.

15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. May I take the opportunity at this

16 point in time to ask the accused in person whether he can follow the

17 procedure in a language he understands.

18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honours, everything is all

19 right.

20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.

21 May I ask the Defence counsel, I got the document from the deputy

22 registrar saying that you are assigned as of 5 July for a period of time

23 of 120 days. And this was due to the fact that the registry has not yet

24 received the declaration of means of the accused. Has this problem been

25 settled in the past?

Page 18

1 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it is true that I

2 received that decision appointing me legal counsel to Mr. Mrdja. However,

3 this problem is still outstanding. We are yet to submit the declaration

4 of means for Mr. Mrdja so that the matter can be resolved under the rules

5 of the Tribunal.

6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And there are, as I understand from

7 your answer, no problems between you and your client? There is a good

8 relationship? The question is also for Mr. Mrdja in person. But from

9 your point of view?

10 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, in the past two

11 days I have succeeded in establishing contact with Mr. Mrdja, and I think

12 our relationship is in order.

13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Mr. Mrdja, you share this view?

14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Absolutely. Everything is fine,

15 Your Honour.

16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then we can be sure that the proceedings can

17 continue under the Rules.

18 May I ask the OTP, being not in the possession of supporting

19 material in this case, what will be the envisaged period of time at trial

20 that this case will take? How many witnesses do you expect to call?

21 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, the Prosecution would anticipate that

22 the trial would proceed -- the accused is charged with crimes against

23 humanity, so one of the elements would be the widespread and systematic

24 attacks. We anticipate that we would not be calling live witnesses to

25 establish all of the elements of the widespread and systematic attacks.

Page 19

1 Assuming that that is done largely through either Rule 92 bis or through

2 another means, stipulation or other means, the witnesses as to the

3 incident in question, we anticipate no more than 15 witnesses would be

4 called. And we think we can put this case on in four weeks or less on the

5 Prosecution side.

6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think this is important to discuss today. The

7 accused and Defence counsel may know, or if they haven't already yet got

8 this information. It causes problems to hear new cases as to the

9 occupation of all the Trial Chambers and the courtroom facilities during

10 the next month, if not years. Therefore, we have to take all the

11 necessary measures to come as soon as possible to a solution.

12 I don't know whether you are aware that Trial Chamber II at

13 present is hearing the case against Dr. Stakic. This case covers, both in

14 time and subject matter, also that what is the content of the indictment

15 against Mr. Mrdja.

16 To be very frank and open, it was to be considered by the Trial

17 Chamber whether or not there could be a consecutive joinder with the

18 Stakic case, but we came to the conclusion that this would not be a

19 possibility granting all the rights to both Dr. Stakic and Mr. Mrdja.

20 They deserve separate hearings so, therefore, separate hearings should be

21 scheduled. On the other hand, we are obliged to hear the case as soon as

22 possible. The concept of a fair trial includes also an expeditious

23 trial.

24 I know that we have numerous time limits and time frames before

25 us, but we can only offer avoiding such a long period of waiting time for

Page 20












12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and

13 English transcripts.













Page 21

1 Mr. Mrdja. We can offer that the Trial Chamber would be prepared, during

2 the break in the case against Dr. Stakic - this means between the end of

3 the case of the Prosecutor and the start of the Defence case, if there is

4 any - to hear the case we have before us in between. And we hear, it

5 would be a period of time of four weeks and taking into account that here

6 we have before us no doubt a serious, extremely serious, crime -- alleged

7 crime against humanity. We have in Annex A the list of 228 persons

8 missing from this incident at 21 August 1992. But nevertheless, in

9 relation to other cases before us, it's limited, especially as regards the

10 time.

11 So therefore, our offer could be when the parties can come to an

12 agreement to hear this case during this break I just mentioned before, and

13 this would be somewhere after the 20th of September, 2002. We are, in the

14 other case against Dr. Stakic, to a certain extent flexible, because in

15 that case the Defence requests time for preparation of their case, so that

16 coming to a conclusion. The case before us could be, on the basis of the

17 goodwill of both parties, be heard between end of September and beginning

18 of December.

19 I don't know whether the parties had already the possibility in

20 the past to contact and discuss how they want to proceed, especially what

21 the Defence will be, what will be the Defence case, but I advise the

22 parties, as time is of the essence, already today to contribute, to give

23 their observations whether they are willing and prepared to act in this

24 way. First of all, for the Defence, please.

25 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, thank you very

Page 22

1 much for your comments. The Defence shares your opinion that in this

2 case, a sooner trial date rather than a later one is advisable. However,

3 we have only just been seized of the documents served on us by the

4 Prosecution. The Defence has not still been consolidated in the sense

5 that I have no co-counsel or assistants. However, we do support your

6 proposal to schedule a trial date as soon as possible. But it is

7 difficult for me to assess at this time how long the Defence will need to

8 gather all the necessary information and evidence. It seems to me,

9 though, with all due respect, and with certain reservations that the dates

10 that you have just suggested could be acceptable to the Defence. Thank

11 you.

12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And the position of the OTP, please.

13 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I think -- I would like to think that

14 it would be realistic for us to shoot for a starting date of October the

15 1st. As Your Honour knows, I'm engaged in Stakic, and it would be helpful

16 at least to have a short break to prepare between the two cases. In

17 addition, I should let the Defence know, there are a few other witness

18 statements that were taken subsequent to the supporting materials put

19 together, but they can be provided shortly. There also are many, many

20 statements dealing with crimes in which the accused is named, Mr. Mrdja is

21 named, which are not the subject of the indictment. I don't see a need to

22 provide those and translate those to the accused. But if the Defence

23 feels differently, we can talk about that.

24 So I would say at this point, I would hope that we can shoot for

25 the starting date of the 1st of October, and we would like very much to

Page 23

1 expeditiously try the case.

2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I am satisfied by the contributions

3 of both parties because it's really important that we can avoid that

4 Mr. Mrdja is in the Detention Unit for a period which could amount to a

5 period of time which would be unproportional. And therefore, having heard

6 your contributions, I really invite both parties to come as soon as

7 possible already before the court recess together and try to find a

8 solution. As I said earlier, the Trial Chamber is prepared to hear this

9 case during the break.

10 There would be one -- the one side may call it an advantage - to

11 be quite honest with you - the other side may call it disadvantage, that

12 there is a Trial Chamber being aware of the problems in Prijedor in 1992,

13 especially in the period of time of the alleged crime we have before us.

14 Therefore, I invite the parties as soon as possible to discuss those

15 issues, whether or not it's possible to introduce as much as possible

16 material, be it 92 bis statements or making use in this case of the

17 possibility to take judicial notice or to come to agreed facts. Because

18 in this case, it may be, indeed, for both parties an advantage to have

19 Judges having heard already a lot about the environment this alleged crime

20 probably has been committed.

21 So therefore, I would like the parties to give the Tribunal in

22 writing a notice whether or not, at the end of the next week or in the

23 middle of the next week, they are prepared to proceed in this envisaged

24 way because it would be necessary to ask the Secretary-General of the

25 United Nations to assign the ad litem Judges also for this case, the case

Page 24

1 we have before us. This would be a prerequisite for hearing the case as

2 fast as possible.

3 And in addition, I would like the Office of the Prosecutor to

4 provide also in this case the Trial Chamber with the necessary material,

5 supporting material, that we know a little bit more than only having

6 before us the indictment. We are acquainted in the way of working

7 together and having access to this material from the Stakic case, and it

8 should be done in the same way as it is done there.

9 May I ask, are there any other observations as regards the

10 proceedings in this case now from, first, from your point of view?

11 MR. KOUMJIAN: No, Your Honour.

12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Before giving the floor to the

13 Defence, I would ask the Defence counsel, you mentioned already the

14 problem of co-counsel and investigator, to contact immediately the OLAD

15 here in this premises to assist you in having co-counsel and an assistant

16 as soon as possible that also for you the necessary is done that you can

17 be prepared.

18 Any other issues from your point of view to be raised today?

19 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. Thank you.

20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.

21 Then finally, before concluding this session, I have to ask the

22 accused in person, do you have any problems as regards your health or the

23 situation you're confronted with in the Detention Unit?

24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Everything is perfectly fine, Your

25 Honour.

Page 25

1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And you, of course, you are not obliged - to the

2 contrary - you have the right, as I said to you during the initial

3 appearance, you have the right to remain silent. But did you understand

4 the procedure that was just discussed amongst the counsel in this case,

5 that we tried to find as soon as possible a date for the hearing in your

6 case?

7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I understood what you talked

8 about, Your Honour.

9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And you agree with this expeditious procedure?

10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I agree with everything that my

11 attorney has stated.

12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. This concludes today's hearing.

13 --- Whereupon the Status Conference adjourned

14 at 4.26 p.m.