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COURTSIDE: Bosanska Krajina Trial

Talic asks for provisional release because of unspecified medical problems.
By Mirna Jancic

A leading Serb defendant has asked for provisional release after giving up his right to attend proceedings on what are believed to be health grounds.

General Momir Talic is charged with genocide against non-Serbs in Bosanska Krajina, north-west Bosnia, where he commanded the 1st Krajina Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska, VRS. Before that, until May 19, 1992 the corps had been known as the 5th Corps of the Yugoslav National Army.

Talic was also a member of the Serb crisis staff in the area, whose president was the general's co-accused, Radoslav Brdjanin. The indictment charges Talic with implementing crisis staff decisions aimed at the creation of an ethnically clean Serb state in Bosnia.

Defence counsel Slobodan Zecevic said his client could no longer bear the pain of his medical examinations and refused to attend. Details of his health problems have not been revealed.

Zecevic asked for the general to be granted provisional release, saying the Republika Srpska authorities had provided guarantees that he would return to The Hague.

The court went into private session last week to hear medical experts' opinions on Talic's condition.

The defendant has agreed that the trial - which started on January 23 and is now hearing prosecution evidence - should continue during his absence from the courtroom.

The tribunal discourages the practice of trying the accused in absentia and is expected to announce its decision on the possibility of provisional release in due course.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor