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Binding-Order Hearing

Tribunal Update 73: Last Week in The Hague (20-25 April 1998)

At first, Croatia disputed the Tribunal's right to issue subpoenas to sovereign states and won the dispute: the Appeals Chamber concluded that states cannot be issued subpoenas, only binding orders. On 30 January this year, the Trial Chamber I issued a binding order that Croatia produce the previously requested documents, but Zagreb objected to the "general" nature of the Tribunal's request and to the "relevance" of the requested documents, claiming that "binding orders are merely cosmetically changed subpoenas."

The three sides - the prosecution, General Blaskic's defense, and the Croatian government - exchanged oral arguments regarding the issue on Wednesday, 22 April. Croatian-government representatives objected that the requested documents concerned a "wider area and a longer period than those to which the indictment against General Blaskic refers" and demanded that the prosecutor specify the list of required documents as well as a list of reasons why they are relevant.

The prosecutor said that the requested documents are of importance for proving the international character of the conflict, noting that it is up to the trial chamber - and not up to the Croatian government - to decide on their relevance.

Since the documents in question are of a confidential nature, a greater part of the hearing was held in a closed session. The decision of the Trial Chamber I will be announced later.

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