Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

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 1                          Tuesday, 19 February 2008

 2                          [Status Conference]

 3                          [Open session]

 4                          [The Appellant Mrksic entered court]

 5                          [The Appellant Sljivancanin not present]

 6                          --- Upon commencing at 3.59 p.m.

 7            JUDGE MERON:  Mr. Registrar, would you please call the case.

 8            THE REGISTRAR:  Good afternoon, Your Honour.  Good afternoon to

 9    everyone in the courtroom.  This is case number IT-95-13/1-A, the

10    Prosecutor versus Mile Mrksic and Veselin Sljivancanin.

11            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you.

12            I would now have the appearances of the parties.

13            The Prosecution.

14            MR. COSTI:  Good morning -- good afternoon, Your Honour.  Matteo

15    Costi, appearing for the Prosecution, with senior appeals counsel Helen

16    Brady and our case manager Sebastiaan van Hooydonk.

17            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Costi.

18            Now, counsel for Mrksic.

19            MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour.  Good

20    afternoon to my learned friends from the Prosecution and everybody in the

21    courtroom.  Miroslav Vasic appearing for Mr. Mrksic.  Thank you very much.

22            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Vasic.

23            Now I gathered that we do not have in court counsel for

24    Mr. Sljivancanin or we do?

25            MR. BOURGON:  We do.

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 1            JUDGE MERON:  Well, I'm very happy to see you.

 2            MR. BOURGON:  We do, Mr. President.  Good afternoon.

 3            JUDGE MERON:  I must say this has come to me somewhat as a

 4    surprise because I understand it was not --

 5            MR. BOURGON:  I've been assigned on this case to help Mr. Novak

 6    Lukic --

 7            JUDGE MERON: No, no, I was not aware that you would be in court

 8    today since Mr. Sljivancanin --

 9            MR. BOURGON: I thought Mr. Lukic would have advised the Court.

10    I'm sorry, Mr. President but representing Mr. Sljivancanin this afternoon

11    is myself, Stephane Bourgon, accompanied by William St-Michel, who is from

12    Quebec, Canada, an intern working with us on this case.

13            JUDGE MERON:  Quebec, Canada, is very far from the country you are

14    used to.  In any event, I am pleased to see you and as our Scheduling

15    Order indicated, the counsel for Mr. Sljivancanin was invited to be here

16    but we did not compel presence.

17            MR. BOURGON:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

18                          [Pre-Appeal Chamber and legal officer confer]

19            JUDGE MERON:  This is, as we all know, a Status Conference called

20    in accordance with Rule 65 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

21    Rule 65 bis (B) requires a Status Conference to be convened within 120

22    days of the filing of a notice of appeal in order to allow any person in

23    custody pending appeal to raise issues of concern.  The conference is also

24    an opportunity for the Tribunal to inquire about the mental and physical

25    condition of the detained person.

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 1            Mr. Mrksic, filed his notice of appeal on 29th October, 2007, and

 2    he remains in custody.  Mr. Sljivancanin filed his notice of appeal on the

 3    same day, but pursuant to a decision of 11 December 2007 he's currently on

 4    provisional release.  I would like to begin the Status Conference by

 5    inquiring into Mr. Mrksic's health.

 6            Mr. Vasic.

 7            MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, thank you very much for

 8    raising this issue.  I have spoken with Mr. Mrksic, he is in good health,

 9    but I believe that he himself would like to address you and personally

10    confirm this to you and maybe tell you something about his conditions of

11    detention.

12            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Vasic.  Yes, I will be -- I am ready

13    to hear Mr. Mrksic.

14            Mr. Mrksic.

15            THE APPELLANT MRKSIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, since I am

16    addressing you for the first time, I have already raised the problems that

17    I have had in the past.  For the time being, I'm feeling well --

18            THE INTERPRETER:  It is very difficult to hear the accused, it

19    seems that his microphone is not on.

20            JUDGE MERON:  Just a second.

21            THE INTERPRETER:  Or the accused is too far from the microphone,

22    as a matter of fact.

23            JUDGE MERON:  I'm hearing him loud and clear.

24            It's everything all right.  You can continue now.

25            THE APPELLANT MRKSIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this is the

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 1    first time I am appearing before you as the Presiding Judge and I would

 2    like to repeat what I've already spoken before previously in the

 3    courtroom.  I arrived here in 2002 in the month of May after an open-heart

 4    surgery when I had two by-pass stints introduced.  In the course of my

 5    case I had a heart attack, I was taken to the hospital in Leiden, and I

 6    had two more stints.  I am currently feeling well, but the nature of my

 7    illness is such that you never know when the problems may appear again.

 8            As far as the Detention Unit is concerned, I don't have any

 9    remarks or objections to my stay there, and I don't know what else to tell

10    you.  I have not been provisionally released save for the 48 hours that I

11    spent at home when my mother died.  I have -- I'm experiencing certain

12    problems at the moment.  I don't know whether I'm going to be filing a

13    motion for provisional release.  I'm working on my defence together with

14    my lawyer, Mr. Vasic.  I believe that we have achieved certain progress

15    and I would like to thank you for hearing me.  Thank you.

16            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Mrksic, you can sit down, and I was

17    glad that you are feeling better and I hope that your good health will

18    continue and I wish you a very good health.  We on our part in a fairly

19    complicated case are trying to move things forward as rapidly as possible,

20    I will say something about that in a moment.

21            But first I would like to turn to the counsel for Mr. Sljivancanin

22    and ask whether they have any concerns that they would like to raise.

23            Mr. Bourgon.

24            MR. BOURGON:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  On behalf of

25    Mr. Sljivancanin I can report that he is doing fine being as presently

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 1    being on provisional release.  He is complying fully with all conditions

 2    set in the provisional release order of December 2007.  He is sending his

 3    regards both to yourself, Mr. President, and to the Appeals Chamber and he

 4    has asked me to be present this afternoon out of courtesy for the Appeals

 5    Chamber.  We have nothing else to report.  Thank you very much,

 6    Mr. President.

 7            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Bourgon.  As I told you earlier I was

 8    very pleased to see you indeed and I thank you for the good wishes that

 9    you have conveyed to me.

10            I want to ask the Prosecutor at this stage whether they have any

11    other issues.

12            MR. COSTI:  Thank you, Your Honour.

13            JUDGE MERON:  Mr. Costi.

14            MR. COSTI:  Thank you, Your Honour.  The Prosecution does not have

15    any other issue to submit to your attention.  Thank you.

16            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Costi.

17            Let me say then since there are no other issues, a few words to

18    the parties about scheduling.  I am sure you are all aware how the

19    schedule works, but let me go through it again now.

20            First on the Prosecution's appeal, the Prosecution has already

21    submitted its appeals brief pursuant to the decision of 14 December 2007.

22    The responses are due 20 days after Mr. Mrksic and Mr. Sljivancanin have

23    received the B/C/S translation of the trial judgement.  I gather that the

24    translation will be available at some point next month, namely, during the

25    month of March.

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 1            Second, the appeal briefs of Mr. Mrksic and Mr. Sljivancanin are

 2    due 40 days after they have received the translation of the trial

 3    judgement.  I believe from the conversations so far that the parties have

 4    no other issues that they would like to raise now.

 5            And I take it that applies also to Mr. Vasic.

 6            MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.  Maybe just

 7    two very brief things.  From our learned friends from the Prosecution we

 8    have received two disclosures with some statements.  This is what was done

 9    earlier today.  I would like to know whether these disclosures have been

10    part of the documents that the Prosecutor announced in their declaration

11    that they filed according to Rule 111(B), in which they stated that some

12    documents were being disclosed according to the Rule A -- 89(i) [as

13    interpreted].  That is the first issue that I would like to raise, and the

14    second issue  --

15            JUDGE MERON:  Let me ask the Prosecution to clarify this.

16                          [Prosecution counsel confer]

17            MR. COSTI:  Your Honour, we made a declaration when we filed our

18    appeal brief, and these disclosure that we just tendered to the Defence in

19    these two days is the result of our ongoing obligation to review material,

20    and so we were aware of it only two or three days ago.

21            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Costi.

22            This resolves the first question, doesn't it?  Okay, the second

23    matter, Mr. Vasic.

24            MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.  My second

25    issue is this:  I am fully aware of your decision regarding the dead-lines

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 1    for the appeal brief and response to the appeal brief by the Prosecutor.

 2    I am trying -- I'll try and slow down for the interpretation.  The Defence

 3    would certainly find things much easier if these dead-lines did not

 4    overlap because in addition to working on the appeal brief we also have to

 5    translate the appeal brief filed by the Prosecutor because these are not

 6    officially translated and we have to do it for the benefit of our client.

 7            And that is why I am trying to share with you my conclusion, which

 8    is that it would be much easier for the Defence if these dead-lines did

 9    not overlap because if that was not the case we will have to work on three

10    things, we will have to work on translating the Prosecutor's brief to our

11    clients, to work on the reply to the Prosecutor's appeal brief, and to

12    prepare our own appeal brief, and all these dead-lines fall after the

13    first-instance Chamber decision has been made available to our client in

14    B/C/S.  It would be our kind request to extend the dead-line for the reply

15    to the Prosecutor's appeal brief to a time after the Prosecutor's appeal

16    brief has been filed.  Thank you very much.

17            JUDGE MERON:  Mr. Vasic, I'm really anxious to have this case move

18    forward expeditiously towards a hearing, especially after hearing what

19    your client said about his state of health.  However, if you feel very

20    strongly about this matter, submit a motion and we will look at that.  And

21    please submit that motion if you only feel that you really have to,

22    because I'm quite sure that your client would like to have his day in

23    court as soon as possible.

24            Mr. Costi.

25            MR. COSTI:  Thank you, Your Honour.  The issue has been discussed

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 1    already in the filing that we are aware of, so we -- just for the record

 2    we stay with our -- we oppose to this request because there is no reason

 3    for which they cannot start working right now and the overlapping in

 4    itself is not a violation of their right.  And in any case they still have

 5    the right to submit a further motion in a written form in the future if

 6    they found it necessary.

 7            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you, Mr. Costi.

 8            There is a lot of time that I think that the counsel for the

 9    appellant can use working on the briefs.  He can do that already, and I

10    draw his attention to the language used in my order of 14 December 2007.

11    Again, should Mr. Vasic feel very strongly about it and feel that our

12    position on that should be revisited, by all means you are entitled to

13    submit a brief.  Please, again do it only in case of real necessity

14    because I believe that my job as a Pre-Appeal Judge here is really in this

15    case particularly to move it forward rapidly.

16            Mr. Vasic, I see you trying to say something.

17            MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.  We will first

18    do our utmost to do our job as efficiently as possible, and only if

19    absolutely necessary we will file our motion as you have allowed us to

20    do.  In any case, we are going to try and comply with your absolutely

21    perfect decision, with your order, as you have mentioned it.

22            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you.

23            I gathered that the counsel for Mr. Sljivancanin has no comments

24    on this issue.

25            MR. BOURGON:  That is correct, Mr. President.  We have no

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 1    comments.  Work is in progress on both the response to the Prosecution

 2    appeal and our own appellant's brief.  That being said, Mr. Sljivancanin

 3    insists on being fully informed and involved in the preparation and the

 4    briefing of his appeal, and as the situation progresses we will see if

 5    there is a need for further motion.  However, at this time we take good

 6    note of your guidance and we will do our utmost to comply.  Thank you,

 7    Mr. President.

 8            JUDGE MERON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Bourgon.

 9            If there are no further issues to raise on behalf of either of the

10    appellants, I believe that we can conclude our business today, and I thank

11    the parties for their attendance and call the proceedings to a close.

12    Thank you very much.

13                          --- Whereupon the Status Conference

14                          adjourned at 4.19 p.m.