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Mladic Prosecutors Dismiss "Flawed" Defence Claim

They seek to counter charge that the indictment against him is short on details of victims.
By Rachel Irwin

Prosecutors at the Hague tribunal this week rejected as “flawed” a claim from Ratko Mladic’s lawyer that the indictment against the accused contains little to no identifying information about the victims.

“In view of the accused’s high-level position as the commander of the [Bosnian Serb army] main staff, and given that he is not charged with physically committing any of the crimes personally, the indictment sufficiently pleads all of the required material facts,” the prosecution states in its September 26 written response.

They note that the arguments of Mladic’s lawyer, Branko Lukic, are “flawed” and an “erroneous application of the tribunal’s jurisprudence”.

Earlier this month, Lukic filed a motion requesting that the prosecution “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 in the indictment.

“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,” Lukic stated in his written request.

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

The prosecution, however, claims that according to what has been established in previous trials, the “precise details to be pleaded…are the acts of the accused himself, not the acts of those persons for whose acts he is alleged to be responsible”.

Along these lines, the prosecution states that that the Mladic indictment “alleges crimes committed on a massive scale and is sufficiently focused and detailed with respect to the acts and mens rea (intent) of Mladic himself. The evidence in relation to the proof of these crimes will be provided in due course”.

Furthermore, the prosecution states that while it intends to give Mladic a list of all the victims by November 1 of this year, there are no “formal requirements” as to how this notification is made and the accused “may receive this information separately from the indictment”.

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 of 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.

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