Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Prosecutors in the case of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic admitted in a court filing this week that the defence still does not have access to some 4,500 documents to which it is entitled as part of the disclosure process.
Mladic’s trial was adjourned on May 17 after two days of opening statements because the prosecution mistakenly failed to disclose thousands of documents to the defence.
Judges rejected the defence request for a six-month adjournment and ruled that the trial would resume on June 25 with the appearance of the first prosecution witness. (See Date Set for First Mladic Witness.)
On June 1, the defence reiterated its request for a six-month suspension, and asked judges to reconsider their decision to go ahead with the trial or otherwise allow them to appeal.
As a result of the 4,498 documents discovered in a recent audit, the prosecution stated in a June 14 filing that it did not oppose the judges reconsidering their decision, nor allowing the defence to appeal.
The prosecution “defers to the chamber’s determination as to the appropriate remedy in view of all the relevant circumstances in the interests of justice”, the lawyers said.
The bench will now decide on the matter.
Prosecutors allege that Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army from 1992 to 1996, planned and oversaw the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that ravaged the city and left nearly 12,000 people dead. Mladic’s army is accused of deliberately sniping at and shelling the city’s civilian population to “spread terror” among them.
He also faces charges of genocide for his alleged role in the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, during which more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed.
The indictment – which contains 11 counts in total – alleges that Mladic was 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.”
After 16 years as a fugitive, Mladic was arrested in Serbia on May 26, 2011.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR senior reporter in The Hague.
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