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

Mladic Lawyer Makes Victims' Identity Plea

He says indictment makes general and vague references to them.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Branko Lukic, Ratko Mladic’s defence lawyer. (Photo: ICTY)
    Branko Lukic, Ratko Mladic’s defence lawyer. (Photo: ICTY)

Ratko Mladic’s defence lawyer is claiming that the indictment against his client does not include enough identifying information for the victims.

“It is remarkable that the indictment fails to identify hardly any victims with any degree of specificity, and prefers to make general and vague references that do not put the defence sufficiently on notice so as to permit General Mladic to answer and defend these charges,” states the lawyer, Branko Lukic, in the September 12 written pleading.

Lukic acknowledges that in such large scale crimes, not every victim can be named, “but the identities of those victims who are known should be included in [an addendum] to the indictment”.

The prosecution should thus “be ordered” to include names, dates of birth, identification numbers, home addresses, father’s first name and “any other available identifying information” about the victims, Lukic writes.

“In the event that there are charges for which the prosecution does not have any victim identities, said charges should be dismissed and removed,” he continues.

The prosecution, Lukic says, has failed to identify “a single solitary victim” on most charges related to the Srebrenica massacre, the detention facilities or the municipalities, save for 24 “named victims of death” by sniping incidents in Sarajevo.

Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army from 1992 to 1996, was arrested on May 26 after 16 years as a fugitive.

He is alleged to have been responsible for some of the worst crimes of the Bosnian war, including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, during which some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered, and the 44-month shelling and sniping campaign against Sarajevo, which killed some 12,000 civilians.

He is also charged with crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer in 23 municipalities across Bosnia.

The indictment, an amended version of which was confirmed shortly after his arrest, is now almost identical to that his former superior, wartime Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, who is currently standing trial at the tribunal.

Both Mladic and Karadzic are alleged to have been part of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was to remove Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The prosecution recently requested that the indictment be severed into two separate trials, but judges have not yet ruled on the matter.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

More IWPR's Global Voices