Briefly Noted

Mladic Subpoenaed as Karadzic Defence Witness

Former military chief declined to appear voluntarily in Hague tribunal.
  • Ratko Mladic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

Wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic has been subpoenaed to appear as a defence witness in the trial of his former superior, Radovan Karadzic.

Both men are currently on trial in separate proceedings at the Hague tribunal, and face nearly identical indictments. They are both charged with presiding over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, during which more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed, and the siege of Sarajevo, which killed some 12,000 people.

In his subpoena request, Karadzic – president of Republika Srpska during the Bosnian war – claims that he needs Mladic’s testimony because it will confirm that “the joint criminal enterprises never existed, and he never informed the accused that prisoners from Srebrenica… would be, were being or had been executed”.

In addition to a number of other issues, Karadzic says Mladic is expected to testify that the two of them “never agreed or planned to expel Muslims or Croats from areas under Serb control”.

Mladic has declined to testify voluntarily. His lawyers argued that he would essentially “be forced to testify against himself”.

This summer, the bench said it would postpone its decision until the appeals chamber made a final determination about another of Karadzic’s subpoena requests, this time relating to Zdravko Tolimir, the former assistant commander for intelligence and security of the Bosnian Serb army’s main staff. Tolimir was convicted of genocide in December 2012 and his case is currently on appeal.

“The main issue in Tolimir’s appeal was whether an accused whose case is still pending before the tribunal, as is the case with both Tolimir and Mladic, can be compelled to give evidence in another accused’s case before the tribunal and thus risk giving self- incriminatory evidence,” the judges wrote in their decision this week.

On November 13, the appeals chamber ruled that Tolimir had to testify in Karadzic’s trial. It found that as tribunal rule allowing the chamber to compel a witness to make self-incriminating statements, “prohibits subsequent use of those statements ‘directly or indirectly’ in a case against that witness and thus provides adequate protection to the tribunal’s accused if they are compelled to make incriminating statements when giving evidence in another case”.

Tolimir gave testimony in the Karadzic trial on December 12.

Judges found that there are specific aspects of Mladic’s expected testimony that “cannot be obtained through any other means” and would thus justify the issuing of a subpoena.

“[The chamber] will be cognisant of the fact that Mladic is currently on trial, and will ensure that his rights are safeguarded,” the decision stated.

A date has not yet been set for Mladic’s testimony.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.


Also in this issue

Reynaud Theunens has previously testified numerous times for Hague prosecutors.
Vidoje Blagojevic served lengthy sentence after being convicted for his role in the massacre.
Former military chief declined to appear voluntarily in Hague tribunal.