Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Krajisnik Case Prepared - Prosecution evidence alone will take over a year.

Tribunal Update 185 Last Week in The Hague (July 17-22, 2000)
By IWPR

At a conference on the Krajisnik case, prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, said that over 200 witnesses will be called, four for each of the 42 "ethnically cleansed" municipalities listed in the indictment, as well as witnesses from the camps and of other crimes which the former speaker of the parliament of Republika Srpska now stands accused.


The prosecution will also summon 50 or 60 expert witnesses to testify on Issues relating to the case, such as the character of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, the role of the parliament and the Council for National Security of RS, and the international character of the conflict in Bosnia.


The defence announced that it was waiting for the prosecution to hand over the evidence on which the indictment is based.


Krajisnik's defence counsel, Goran Neskovic, also announced that he would submit a written request for a temporary release of the accused from detention. Presiding judge, Richard May, then closed the session so that Krajisnik could make a statement about the conditions of his detention.


Krajisnik may have requested the closed session himself, to avoid publicly contradicting family and friends who claimed in the weeks following his arrest that he was being subjected to "torture" and "drugs" in the Detention Unit in order to "break him down and force co-operation with investigators".


In a public hearing on the preliminary motions of the defence, Krajisnik's counsel lodged two motions, disputing the Tribunal's jurisdiction and pointing to "defects in the form of the indictment." Krajisnik also requested the "pro bono" participation of five legal experts and lawyers, but the judges approved only one, Professor Radomir Lukic, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Serbian Sarajevo and an expert in constitutional law.


So far as the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is concerned, judge May reminded Krajisnik's defence counsel that the Appeals Chamber had already rejected similar objections presented in October 1995 by Mikhail Wladimiroff, defence counsel for defendant Dusko Tadic. However, he said the chamber could change its jurisdiction decision if presented with new arguments.


Professor Lukic, who appeared together with defence counsel Neskovic, argued there was a new argument to be considered. He challenged the concept of "command responsibility" and claimed that it does not form part of international customary law, arguing that the concept was first established in 1946 in the "quasi legal" trial of Japanese General Yamashita, a "dubious precedent."


It was subsequently applied in the Nuremberg trials, which - according to Professor Lukic - represented the "victor's justice" and was full of "procedural and legal shortcomings." The concept was not used again until the founding of the ICTY, which the professor argued could mean that it has been "de-customarised," and is no longer part of international customary law.


The judges pointed out that the concept of "command responsibility" forms part of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Professor Lukic responded that that Rome Statute was adopted "several years after Krajisnik's alleged crimes were committed."


The trial chamber has yet to announce a decision on the various objections presented by Krajisnik's defence.