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Celebici Trial: 'Ethnic Solidarity' Gives Way

Tribunal Update 82: Last Week in The Hague (22-27 June 1998)

We say probably, because all of last week's proceedings in the Celebici trial were conducted in closed sessions, perhaps precisely because of that exception.

The presentation of evidence by the defense of Bosnian Croat Zdravko Mucic, the alleged commander of the Celebici camp, began and ended last week. From the beginning of the trial, Mucic's defense counsels - first Belgrade lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic (himself an exception, albeit short-lived, to the "ethnic kinship" rule) and then Zagreb lawyer Zeljko Olujic - announced that a large number of Serbs whom Mucic had gotten out of the camp and whom he had helped cross over to the Serb-controlled territory would testify in his favor.

Given that several prosecution witnesses have also confirmed such claims regarding Mucic, it is indeed likely that several Bosnian Serbs may have testified in favor of the accused Bosnian Croat last week. The fact that all of them testified under the full protection of identity and in closed sessions indicates that such exceptions to the "ethnic-kinship rule" continue to pose a risk both for the accused and those from the "wrong side" who are prepared to defend them.

The Celebici trial continues this week with the presentation of evidence by the defense of the third co-accused, Hazim Delic.

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