Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Briefly Noted

Compiled by IWPR staff in The Hague (TU No 395, 25-Feb-05)
By IWPR

In the document, filed on February 22, defence counsel Nicholas Stewart QC and Chrissa Loukas argued that they have had insufficient time to prepare the case, which they claim is second only to the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in terms of complexity.


They say they have read at most 15 per cent of the hundreds of thousands of pages of relevant documentation, have struggled to find time to prepare cross-examination of witnesses and have been unable to find expert witnesses, carry out adequate investigations in the field or develop a proper defence strategy.


The lawyers also cite problems caused by the fact that neither of them speaks Krajisnik’s language, compounded by a bulk of untranslated material they inherited from a previous defence team.


“There is no chance whatever that the current state of defence case preparation will achieve a fair trial for Krajisnik if the trial chamber proceeds at the pace it proposes,” they conclude.


Stewart and Loukas took over the case after previous defence counsel Deyan Ranko Brasich was suspended from practicing law in the United States in 2003 for overcharging a client by more than 23,000 US dollars.


The Krajisnik trial is currently on hold following the withdrawal of Judge Amin El Mahdi, who was not re-elected to his post as a permanent tribunal judge in voting last year.


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The government of Serbia and Montenegro has requested that the Hague tribunal indictment against Bosnian Serb general Dragomir Milosevic be referred to its own domestic courts.


In a formal submission, filed on February 18 at the request of Milosevic’s defence counsel Branislav Tapuskovic, Belgrade argued that its legal system is well-equipped to try war crimes cases.


The document also pressed the point that the accused has Serbian citizenship and that when he surrendered in December, he did so to the Belgrade authorities.


Tribunal chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte asked on January 31 that the indictment against Milosevic – who is charged in relation to shelling and sniping of civilian targets during the siege of Sarajevo – be referred to the justice system of Bosnia and Hercegovina.


Del Ponte said that her preference is for such cases to be transferred to the country where the crimes in question are alleged to have taken place.


The referral of Hague indictments to domestic courts in the region is part of the tribunal’s completion strategy, which envisages all trials finishing in 2008 and the court winding down completely in 2010.


Relations between Belgrade and the Hague tribunal have long been tense, with the Serbian government coming under mounting international pressure to increase its cooperation with the UN court.


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