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Judges Accept Todorovic Guilty Plea

Plea bargain obliges Stevan Todorovic to testify in other Bosanski Samac trials

A former Bosnian Serb police chief, Stevan Todorovic, was found guilty last week of committing a crime against humanity - persecution on political, racial and religious grounds.

The date for sentencing will be set later, probably in April or May this year.

Todorovic had pleaded guilty voluntarily after negotiating a plea bargain with the Office of the Prosecutor, OTP.

The defendant agreed to appear as an "important witness in a very important trial" in exchange for 26 counts on his indictment being dropped

Initially, it appeared the OTP had accepted the deal primarily to rid itself of the so-called "S-For Case" in which Todorovic, former police chief in Bosanski Samac, had challenged the legality of his arrest and demanded to be released.

The case had resulted in a tribunal court order requiring S-For, NATO and NATO member states to hand over all documents relating to his capture.

In December, Del Ponte said Todorovic's lawyers had instigated negotiations on a plea agreement long before the "S-For Case" had got as far as the court order to surrender documents to the tribunal.

On Friday, Todorovic's lawyers, Deyan Brashich and Nikola Kostic, demanded the withdrawal of the 26 counts, which include murder charges, be unconditional and that prosecutors guarantee they never be reintroduced against their client.

But prosecutor Nancy Patterson insisted the withdrawal of charges could only be considered if Todorovic fulfils his side of the plea bargain.

Part of the deal, it emerged, involves Todorovic testifying in the trials of others named in the Bosanski Samac indictment as well as unspecified "other trials".

Todorovic's position as former police chief in Bosanski Samac would undoubtedly have given the defendant considerable knowledge of police operations and procedures, political and military chains of command.

He could be a valuable prosecution witness in the trials of former Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic, as well as Radislav Brdjanin and Momir Talic, both of whom are accused of genocide in Bosanska Krajina.

Patterson said Todorovic "could testify for years", adding that the plea bargain obligations imply "more than testifying." The prosecutor would not elaborate on that.

Prosecution and defence finally agreed Todorovic would fulfil his obligations in exchange for the OTP immediately dropping counts 2 to 27 from the indictment.

The final plea agreement made clear, however, that if Todorovic reneged in any way, the OTP "may reinstate the full indictment".

Judge David Hunt pointed out this plea bargain stipulation could call into question any future Todorovic testimony, as it could be argued that he was "under threat of being accused again".

Patterson replied that the OTP was aware of this risk, but had decided to go with the agreement and leave it to the judges to assess the credibility of Todorovic's evidence.