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Delayed Krajisnik Trial Imminent

After four years in custody, former senior Bosnian Serb official set to stand trial.
By Stacy Sullivan

The long-awaited trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, the onetime Bosnian Serb speaker of the parliament, is slated to begin in February 3, tribunal officials said this week.


Krajisnik, who is charged with two counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws or customs of war, has been in tribunal custody for nearly four years.


His trial was originally set to begin in May, last year, but was postponed when the tribunal learned that his defence counsel, Serbian-American lawyer Deyan Ranko Brasich, had been disbarred in the United States for repeatedly overcharging his clients.


Two other lawyers were also a part of his defence team – Goran Neskovic, a Serb, and Nikola Kostich, another Serbian-American – but because Krajisnik did not want either of them to be his chief counsel.


Although his team had already spent more than 1.5 million US dollars preparing Krajisnik’s defense, the tribunal agreed to allow him to appoint a new lawyer.


Krajisnik chose British defense counsel Nicholas Stewart who recently represented professional golfer Andrew Raitt in a 1 million pound law suit alleging that his chances of becoming one of the world’s top sportsman were destroyed after an Alsatian named Zomba bit off his little finger.


The tribunal estimates that Krajisnik’s defence will cost some 40,150 dollars per month.


In June last year, the registrar ruled that in light of the defendant’s significant financial holdings, Krajisnik was expected to contribute 12,970 dollars of his own money each month to the cost of his defense, a figure that the registrar said represented 40 per cent of his monthly disposable income.


In July, Krajisnik appealed the decision, claiming that he was financially indigent and could not afford to contribute anything to his defense.


The tribunal reviewed the defendant’s financial assets – including houses and property in Zabrde, Rajlovac, Pale, Lausevac, as well as land in Montenegro and Serbia, holdings in the companies Sarajevoinvest, MKM Kranina and Opel Corsa – and lowered its assessment, asking that the accused contribute 10,912 dollars per month.


Part of the rational behind the reduced figure, according to tribunal documents, is that Krajisnik’s elderly mother, with whom he lived, no longer receives a 589 dollar monthly income from the lease of property belonging to one of Krajisnik’s companies. The registrar also took into account the defendant’s claim that his house in Zabrde was overvalued.


Pending further appeals, it can be expected that Krajisnik will contribute the requested sum.


Stacy Sullivan is the IWPR project manager in The Hague.


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