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

Prosecutors Not Ready for Simatovic and Stanisic Trial

(TU No 464, 18-Aug-06)
Proceedings were originally scheduled to start by the end of this year, but at a status conference held in The Hague on August 15, the prosecutors asked for at least six more months.

They said the deaths of their two key witnesses forced them to reorganise their case. One was Milan Babic who committed suicide in the tribunal’s detention centre in March; the identity of the other witness is protected.

The prosecutors also stressed the complexity of the case - which overlaps with at least 14 of the tribunal’s ongoing and pending trials - as another reason why more time is needed. They explained that only a relatively small number of staff have been allocated to work on the case, as it is “not seen as a priority”.

Overall the prosecution plans to call about 120 witnesses, 75 of whom have already testified at other trials in The Hague.

The indictment charges Stanisic and Simatovic on the basis of individual criminal responsibility with the crimes they allegedly committed against Croats and Muslims during the 1991-1995 wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

They are accused of participating in a joint criminal enterprise, whose objective was “the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs, principally Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large areas of Croatia and Bosnia”.

Both accused were temporarily released from custody in December 2004, and are in Serbia awaiting the beginning of the trial.

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