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Stanisic Trial Adjourned on Appeal

Appeal judges order that trial be suspended due to accused’s health problems.
By Denis Dzidic
The appeals chamber of the Hague tribunal has granted Jovica Stanisic’s request to put his trial on hold for up to three months because of his ill health.

In their decision of May 16, appeal judges granted a previous request by the defence “to adjourn the proceedings for a minimum of three months and to reassess the accused’s state of health before determining when the trial should commence”.

The trial of Stanisic and his co-accused Franko Simatovic began last month with the opening of the prosecution case.

The two high-ranking Serbian officials are charged with directing and organising secret units of the Serbian state security service, which committed crimes against non-Serb civilians in Croatia and Bosnia during the conflicts of the Nineties.

Stanisic, who suffers from osteoporosis, kidney stones, pouchitis and depression, has been unable to attend hearings or take part in them through video-link in his detention unit due to ill health. However, he refuses to give up his right to be present at hearings of his trial.

The appeals chamber decision this week reversed a trial chamber ruling that the accused would be allowed to view and take part in live hearings of his case by video-link from the detention unit.

Appeal judges found that such a method would harm the defendant’s basic right to be present at court. They also found that the trial chamber decision failed to consider if Stanisic would be able to fully take part in the proceedings from his detention unit due to his state of health.

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR-trained reporter.

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