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Mladic Defence Case Delayed Because of IT Issues

Defence team given an extra week to prepare after reporting computer operating glitches.

Judges at the Hague tribunal have postponed the start date for Ratko Mladic’s defence case by one week after his lawyers complained of technical glitches that hindered their preparations.

The defence case will now begin on May 19 instead of May 13. However, a pre-defence conference will go ahead as scheduled on May 12.

Mladic’s lawyers had argued that a computer system upgrade had caused numerous problems, and they requested a three-week delay from the date the issues were resolved.

The bench responded with a written decision saying that “while the defence raises various detailed technical complaints, it fails, for the most part, to explain or demonstrate to what extent such technical inconveniences impact its ability to prepare for the defence case”.

However, “the chamber understands that having to deal with technical problems wastes time intended to spend on substantive defence case preparations. At least for a number of days in April 2014, some of the members of the defence team encountered technical problems in their work. In order to compensate for some of these inconveniences, the chamber will grant the defence some additional time,” judges concluded.

Prosecutors allege that Mladic, as commander of the Bosnian Serb army from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.

He is accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Mladic was arrested in May 2011 after spending 16 years as a fugitive. His trial began in May 2012 and the prosecution rested its case in February this year.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.

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