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Dokmanovic Case -A Bench of the Appeals Chamber

Tribunal Update 52: Last Week in The Hague (November 10-15, 1997)

This means that the appeal handed over 10 days ago by Dokmanovic's lawyer Toma Fila (see Update 51), will not be discussed before the Appeal Chamber in full formation.

Considering the appeal, the judges concluded that the defence did not manage to demonstrate the existence of the "serious case" which, according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, is a condition for accepting the appeal to the preliminary decisions of Trial Chambers.

However, because there is a matter of "fundamental nature of the issues in this matter, namely the continuing deprivation of the liberty of the accused and the lawfulness of his arrest", the appeals bench entered into consideration of core of a problem which the defence initiated. The consideration enabled the judges to conclude:

"The Defence failed 'to demonstrate any relevant inconsistencies or contradictions in the testimony' (during the hearing in which the Defence's objection to the legality of Dokmanovic's arrest was considered) or to "demonstrate any error in the decision (by which the Trial Chamber II refused the appeal in question)."

The submission by the accused that the Trial Chamber had incorrectly interpreted Rule 53 (the secrecy of the indictment, which, according to the defence, should apply only to the accused, not to the states), is, as judges assessed, "so vague and imprecise as to be not capable of any serious consideration."

The allegation that the Trial Chamber had incorrectly assumed that the FRY would not execute the arrest warrant against Dokmanovic is "manifestly ill-founded and does not raise any issue which could be subject matter of an appeal..." The argument put forth by Dokmanovic's defence counsel that UNTAES does not have the mandate to "arrest or kidnap" anyone, is, according to the three judges, "manifestly ill-founded in fact and in law".

Finally the contention by the Defence that only the Statute of the Tribunal, and not the Rules, has supremacy over national legislation..."raises no ground of appeal, and is manifestly ill-founded."

Since the objection to the legality of the arrest and the request for his relase have both been finally rejected, Dokmanovic and his counsel can now concentrate on preparation for the forthcoming trial. When this might be is not yet known, since with the recent arrival of 10 wanted Bosnian Croats, there are now a good number of remanded prisoners in The Hague, but still only one court room.

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