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

Briefly Noted

The tribunal announced this week that the defence phase of the case against Slobodan Milosevic was being pushed back until July 5.
By IWPR

The tribunal cited Milosevic’s continued ill-health, and his cardiologist’s order to rest and then work only three days per week, in explaining its decision.


In mid-April, Milosevic submitted a witness wish-list 1631 names long, which reportedly included British prime minister Tony Blair and former US president Bill Clinton.


When the Milosevic hearings resume, the newly-appointed Scottish judge Lord Bonomy will take his place on the bench. Before this can happen, however, Bonomy must confirm to the tribunal that he has familiarised himself with the case to date.


Former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic is set to appear as a witness in the case against Momcilo Krajisnik during the week of May 31-June 4.


Krajisnik, the former president of the Bosnian Serb assembly, is charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise to drive non-Serbs from Bosnia. The prosecution alleges he is guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.


Babic, who served as president of the breakaway Serbian republic of the SAO Krajina, pled guilty to one count of persecuting non-Serbs as part of an agreement with prosecutors in January.


This will not be the first time Babic has appeared as a witness before the tribunal. He testified in the case against Slobodan Milosevic in late 2002, where he was initially known only as protected witness C-61- until Milosevic publicly revealed his former associate’s identity.


Babic’s testimony is expected to last the entire week.


General Pavle Strugar, the former general of the Yugoslav People’s Army accused of committing war crimes during the December 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik, is fit to stand trial, said the tribunal in a May 26 decision.


Strugar’s lawyers had offered expert evidence suggesting their client suffers from a number of ailments that affect his ability to participate and follow the proceedings. Among other things, these included post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and vascular dementia.


To counter these claims, the prosecution had provided expert evidence of its own indicating that while Strugar suffers from a weak memory, occasionally has difficulty finding words and has “uncomplicated” vascular dementia, he is still able to understand and take part in the case.


The tribunal also offered some observations of its own, gleaned from watching the defendant during nearly 5 months of trial.


Specifically, the judges recalled that Strugar “has taken notes during the proceeding,” has “reacted appropriately throughout to both favourable and adverse aspects of the evidence”, and, when speaking, has been “quite collected, relevant, well structured, and comprehensive”.


And although Strugar sometimes closes his eyes during the proceedings, they noted, “This posture has been seen to change when the evidence turned to a matter of greater interest to the accused.”


More IWPR's Global Voices