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Briefly Noted

Compiled by Alison Freebairn in The Hague
By IWPR

Pavle Strugar's defence team has failed in their bid to have the charges against their client dismissed at the trial's halfway point.

The defendant, a former general in the old Yugoslav National Army, is charged with crimes committed on December 6, 1991, during the course of the force's campaign in and around the historic Croatian town of Dubrovnik.

The indictment alleges that two civilians were killed, three seriously wounded and many buildings of cultural and historical significance destroyed in the shelling of the town. Strugar is accused of individual criminal liabilty for ordering the attack.

Strugar's legal team had applied for the case to be dismissed before the defence part of the trial got underway, arguing that there was not enough evidence to support the allegations listed in the indictment.

But the panel of judges ruled on June 21 that there was sufficient evidence on which a trial chamber could conclude that the defendant "ordered and aided and abetted" the crimes set out in counts one to six of the indictment against him, and also enough evidence that the defendant was "responsible as a commander" for crimes committed by his subordinates.

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Theodor Meron, president of the Hague tribunal, has told Srebrenica survivors that Republika Srpska's continued refusal to arrest and hand over fugitive indictees was "unacceptable" and could not be allowed to continue.

Speaking at the Potocari Memorial Cemetary on June 23, Meron spoke of his "honour and humility" at being present at a place of remembrance for Europe's worst mass murder since the Second World War, and said that he had a special reason for wanting to visit the site.

"I had a special wish to visit [this place] because earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting as the presiding judge in the appeal which, for the first time, judicially recognised the crimes committed against the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995 as genocide," he said, referring to the landmark decision made in the case of Radislav Krstic - who had appealed against the 46-year sentence he was given for the crimes committed in Srebrenica - on April 19 this year.

Meron went on to read an extract from the judgment handed down in the Krstic case, and called on the Bosnian Serb authorities "to break with its tradition of non-cooperation and obstruction of the rule of law".

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Hague indictee Nebojsa Pavkovic, a former Yugoslav army general accused of crimes committed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, said on June 21 that he would not give himself up to the tribunal.

Instead, he insists that he will only answer the charges levelled by the Hague tribunal in a Serbian court.

Pavkovic was commander of the Yugoslav army's third corps, which operated in Kosovo from January to June 1999. He is one of four people named in the indictment, which accuses them of four counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the code or customs of war.

The ex-general - who has been on the run since the indictment was unsealed on October 20, 2003 - told B92 that he had had an unofficial meeting with Serbian defence minister Prvoslav Davinic to discuss the possibility of a trial on Serbian soil.

Alison Freebairn is an IWPR editor in The Hague

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