COURTSIDE: Srebrenica Case

Indicted duo ask for pre-trial release

COURTSIDE: Srebrenica Case

Indicted duo ask for pre-trial release

A new trial over the July 1995 massacre of some 7,000 Muslim men in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica and the deportation of the rest of the town's Muslim population is to start next May at the latest.

In the meantime, two of the four accused have asked for pre-trial release. Vidoje Blagojevic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army's Bratunac brigade which took part in the takeover of the UN "safe-heaven", and Dragan Obrenovic, chief of staff of the Zvornik brigade, told the court they would return for trial if they were allowed to prepare their defence in Republika Srpska.

The third accused, Dragan Jokic, has already been awarded pre-trial release. Momir Nikolic remains in the Scheveningen detention unit and has not yet filed a request.

The prosecution opposes pre-trial release for Obrenovic and Blagojevic, who are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations

of the laws and customs of war.

It reminded the court that the two did not surrender but were arrested by international stabilisation forces in Bosnia, SFOR, in April and August last year. However, most of the prosecution arguments were heard in closed session.

The Republika Srpska government offered guarantees for the two, pledging to arrest them should they fail to return to The Hague. The

Bosnian presidency, however, said it could not vouch for Obrenovic and

Blagojevic's return because it had "no mechanisms" to ensure the accused men would appear for trial.

Blagojevic's defence team reminded the court that Jokic, who is charged under the same indictment, was granted pre-trial release and said it would be unfair to keep the other two in detention.

The trial schedule depends on the completion of the case against

Milomir Stakic, accused for genocide against non-Serbs in Prijedor.

The tribunal has already looked into the Srebrenica massacre during the trial of the Bosnian Serb General, Radoslav Krstic, who was found guilty and sentenced to 46 years for genocide against Muslims.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor.

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