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Mladic Lawyers Fight Karadzic Subpoena

Defence argues that wartime Bosnian Serb army commander should not have to give evidence in his superior’s trial.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Ratko Mladić u sudnici Haškog tribunala. (Photo: ICTY)
    Ratko Mladić u sudnici Haškog tribunala. (Photo: ICTY)

Lawyers for wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic have filed an urgent motion against a subpoena requiring their client to testify as a defence witness in the trial of former president Radovan Karadzic later this month.

Judges in the Karadzic trial granted the subpoena request in December. Mladic, whose own trial is ongoing, declined to appear voluntarily, and his lawyers argued that he would essentially be forced to “testify against himself”. (See also Mladic Subpoenaed as Karadzic Defence Witness.)

Mladic’s testimony has been scheduled for January 28. His defence team asked to appeal against the ruling granting the subpoena, but the Karadzic bench denied that request. Judges said the issues raised had already been dealt with by the appeals chamber when it ruled that former Bosnian Serb army commander Zdravko Tolimir must comply with a subpoena to testify in Karadzic’s trial. (Tolimir was convicted of genocide in 2012, and his case is currently on appeal.)

Mladic’s lawyers have now asked the Karadzic bench to reconsider that decision.

They are also appealing to the judges presiding over Mladic’s trial to “protect the rights and proper administration of justice as to the accused before it”.

In addition, the defence is asking judges to order a medical examination of Mladic to assess whether his health would permit him to appear as a witness. The argument is that the standard used to determine whether an accused person is medically fit to stand trial is not the same as is used when assessing whether a witness can give testimony.

“Mr Mladic’s mental health is not such to permit him to testify as a witness, and at the very least a medical examination of him is required,” the lawyers said in their submission.

The lawyers also supplied medical documentation, which has not been made public.

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

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