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Ojdanic Asks Judges to Clamp Down on Prosecution

(TU No 459, 30-Jun-06)
Ojdanic is due to face trial in July along with five other Serbian and Yugoslav officials accused of responsibility for a campaign of violence in Kosovo in 1999 which is said to have driven hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians from their homes.

The defence lawyers want the trial chamber to order the prosecution to limit themselves to presenting evidence in relation to no more than ten incidents of individual alleged crimes in Kosovo during the period in question. The tribunal's rules allow for judges to intervene to place such limits on the prosecution.

Ojdanic's lawyers argue that the death of the tribunal's top accused, the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, in March has encouraged judges to speed up their own client's case. Milosevic had been on trial for over four years by the time he died.

However, the lawyers claim that all such efforts to hurry things along have been to the disadvantage of the accused, with judges overruling their objections that they haven't had time to review all the material relating to the case or to visit crime scenes and witnesses in Kosovo.

"General Ojdanic now invites the trial chamber to adopt a measure designed to speed up the trial at the expense of the prosecution," they say.

"The indictment in this case contains 32 separate incidents of deportation and murder spread throughout 13 municipalities in Kosovo. If there ever was a case in which the trial chamber could apply Rule 73 bis (D) [allowing for limits on prosecution evidence], this is the case."

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