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

Briefly Noted

By IWPR staff in The Hague (TU No 431, 25-Nov-05)
By IWPR
Ojdanic had argued that five states - Canada, Iceland, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and the United States - along with NATO should produce any “intercepted communications” between January and June 1999 in which the general was mentioned.



Ojdanic has been indicted along with four other Serbian generals and two high-ranking officials from the Milosevic era - Milan Milutinovic, the ex-president of Serbia, and Nikola Sainovic, former deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia.



The men face four counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws or customs of war for their alleged role in a campaign of terror and violence carried out against Kosovo Albanians between January and June 1999.



The indictment claims that during this period, 800,000 Albanians were deported and Yugoslav army forces committed “systematic acts” of brutality against the population.



The judges granted Ojdanic’s application for intercepted communications relevant to Ojdanic’s alleged role in deportations and killings of civilians, and his efforts to prevent or punish war crimes in Kosovo.



The original application for intercepted information in November 2002 applied to all NATO states and six others, but was thrown out by the judges for being too “vague and obscure”.



However, despite arguments put forward by lawyers for Canada, the UK and the US that the information sought was still too broad, the judges this time partly granted his application.



Their only restriction was on communications involving former NATO secretary general Wesley Clark, ex-Serbian general Momcilo Perisic and any remarks by military attaches on a speech made by Ojdanic in 1998.



The judges said that states which felt divulging intercepts information might undermine national security had three weeks to request protective measures.



If no such requests are made, the documents must be delivered.



***



Prosecutors at The Hague are stepping up pressure on Belgrade over “serious obstacles” in cooperation with the tribunal.



Apart from the Serbian authorities’ failure to arrest of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, Florence Hartmann, spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, this week pointed up the problems the prosecution was facing in gaining access to documents from Serbia and Montenegro.



She told a press conference in The Hague that Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal “cannot be termed full” until there is “unrestricted access to documents and witnesses”.



Also this week, the prosecution in the Slobodan Milosevic trial made public a previously confidential document about Belgrade’s provision of information pertaining to a shadowy body known as the Joint Command, JC.



The Office of the Prosecutor alleges that the Joint Command - comprising high-ranking politicians, military and police officers, headquartered in the capital of Kosovo, Pristina - was created to implement ethnic cleansing during the war in Kosovo in 1999, and that it bypassed the usual lines of command.



The prosecution is complaining that there is “a complete absence of further sufficient and credible efforts to locate the JC documentation” on the part of the authorities in Belgrade.



The prosecution suggests that the archives of all the brigades active in Kosovo and those of the Pristina corps should be searched.



Other “obvious lines of investigation”, according to the prosecution, include a search of the Yugoslav Army Military History Institute Military Archive in Belgrade, and interviews with commanders of the various brigades.



Evidence about the body was presented by the defence in the Milosevic case during July this year. Witnesses argued that the JC was a coordinating not a command body.



The prosecution term similar arguments from the Serbian government as distractions from the real issues of whether they have actually made any efforts to determine the whereabouts of the documents.



***



The prosecution in the trial of former Bosnian army chief Rasim Delic have asked judges to delay a decision on their proposal for an enlarged indictment against the accused, until they have had time to consider last week’s not guilty verdict against his subordinate Sefer Halilovic.



The prosecution also wants to wait until a judgement has been given in the case of two other senior Bosnian officers at The Hague – Enver Hadzihasanovic, former commander of the Third Corps and Amir Kubura, leader of the Seventh Muslim Brigade.



Judges said Halilovic was not responsible for deaths in two Bosnian Croat villages during an operation to lift the siege of Mostar during 1993.



In the proposed new indictment against Delic, he is held responsible for failing to investigate or punish those responsible for the deaths of scores of civilians in the villages of Grabovica and Uzdol in September 1993.

But the prosecution admit that the Halilovic not guilty judgement “may have implications” for the proposed amended indictment.



The defence argues that the prosecution is in fact filing a completely new second indictment against Delic and that there’s no evidence to support the new charges.



***



The defence in the case of the former Bosnian commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, has claimed that a Bosnian Serb report states that ten of the previous prosecution witnesses had a role in the fall of Srebrenica.



A Republika Srpska government commission report lists some 17,000 people who are said to have been in some way involved in the capture of the enclave and its aftermath.



Oric’s defence team have been given access to the confidential list by the prosecution, as part of their obligation to disclose any material which might exonerate the accused.



The defence team had asked all the prosecution witnesses during the trial where they were when more than seven thousand Bosnian boys and men were massacred after the fall of the enclave. All had said they were elsewhere.



Providing the information that some of the witnesses may not have told the complete truth may affect their credibility.

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