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Kolundzija case: The right man in the dock

Tribunal Update 131: Last Week in The Hague (21-27 June, 1999)
By IWPR

It appears that the only person to believe his claim was his temporary Defence counsel, Eugene O'Sullivan of Canada. At an initial appearance hearing on 14 June 1999, O'Sullivan stunned the Trial Chamber with a statement: "The man seated in the dock is not the man listed in the indictment," and followed up with request for evidentiary hearing on grounds of mistaken identity case (see Tribunal Update No. 130).


The hearing was held last week, despite the fact that the indictee's new Defence counsel, American Dragan Vucicevic, had in the interim, filed a written submission in which the Defence acknowledged that Kolundzija had indeed been present at the Keraterm Camp, and thus withdrew its request for an evidentiary hearing.


Defence counsel Vucicevic was, however, absent from the hearing that was held last Friday. His American co-counsel Jovan-John Ostojic - despite the above-mentioned written submission and acknowledgement - continued to dispute that the prosecution has proved the identity of the apprehended man. Ostojic went on to examine and dispute certain aspects of the indictment itself, which rather irritated the judges. At one point, Presiding Judge Richard May cut Ostojic with a brush remark: "What do you actually want [from us]? To find that [the defendant] is not guilty and to acquit him?"


After Prosecutor Grant Niemann summoned two identifcation witnesses (one in closed court), the Trial Chamber concluded that Dragan Kolundzija was indeed "the accused named in the indictment," and ordered that the accused enter his plea on 13 July 1999, when the initial appearance hearing will resume. Until then, the Prosecution is to submit an amended indictment for confirmation, not only with corrected personal details of the defendant, but also with a request to join Dragan Kolundzija with those named in the "Kvocka & Others" indictment.


The cases of four other indicted persons who are in detention at the Tribunal - Miroslav Kvocka, Milojica Kos, Mladen Radic and Zoran Zigic, who were previously named on separate indictments for Keraterm and Omarska prison camps - have been combined in that latter indictment.