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Bosnia Unwilling to Try Trbic Case

By Caroline Tosh in The Hague (TU No 485, 19-Jan-07)
A former Bosnian Serb army officer charged in connection with the Srebrenica massacre has supported an application to transfer his case back to Bosnia.

But the Sarajevo authorities have opposed the move, saying he might pose a risk to himself or others.

Milorad Trbic, a security officer with the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, Zvornik brigade, was due to stand trial with six other Bosnian Serb military and police officers on charges related to the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. But his indictment was severed the month before the trial began in July last year.

In the decision to split his case, judges raised questions about his health and suggested there may be a conflict of interest between him and his co-accused.

Trbic, who is charged with complicity in the Srebrenica genocide, said at a hearing on January 15 that he is in good health.

But a psychiatric examination ordered by chambers last year has revealed that his competence to stand trial was "questionable".

Milana Popadic, a Bosnian justice ministry representative, said the country lacked facilities to accommodate detainees who pose a danger to themselves and others due to their mental state.

Popadic also said that it would be inappropriate for the tribunal to refer cases involving genocide-related charges back to the national court.

Prosecutor Susan Somers said that Bosnian authorities would have to explain to its people that it was not ready to try genocide cases.

Trbic's defense counsel said a transfer of the case to the Bosnian court might endanger his client, who had received threats, he said.

The defendant was formerly indicted with Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Drago Nikolic - who face genocide and war crimes charges - as well as Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero, who are accused of blocking aid and supplies to Srebrenica.

Another accused, Zdravko Tolimir, remains on the run.

Bosnia’s ability to try grave war crimes cases has been much debated in recent months, as the tribunal’s deadline to complete trials draws ever nearer with six key suspects still at large.

Caroline Tosh is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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