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Talic Temporary Release Request

Talic defence lawyers say their client has spent too long in custody

Defence lawyers for General Momir Talic, former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army Krajina Corps, last week requested their client be released pending trial.

Talic, accused alongside former Republika Srpska deputy prime minister Radislav Brdjanin of genocide in Bosnian Krajina, has been in custody at The Hague since August 1999. Their trial could begin this summer.

Talic's lawyers argued the defendant has been in custody for too long and that he should be released until his trial gets underway.

Last year, the tribunal was presented with the original release request together with a Bosnian Serb government assurance that he would be closely monitored while in Republika Srpska and, if need be, forcibly returned to The Hague.

On February 2, Perica Bundalo, Bosnian Serb interior minister, appeared before the court to say the new Banja Luka authorities would honour the guarantees offered by the previous administration of Milorad Dodik.

Prosecutor Joanna Korner turned down the request, however. During her cross-examination of Bundalo, she tried to persuade the court it would be unwise to trust assurances made by the Bosnian Serb authorities.

Significantly, the prosecutor asked whether the Republika Srpska government had taken steps to arrest accused war criminals on its territory. Bundalo said it "did not have time to deal with that."

Korner read out the names of all the fugitives from the Bosnian Serb entity, all of whom Bundalo claimed to be "unfamiliar with" - except Karadzic.

"That name is familiar," Bundalo said, adding that he did not know whether Karadzic was still living in Pale.

Talic's defence lawyer condemned the prosecutor's interrogation of the interior minister as an attempt "to dispute the legitimacy of the government of Republika Srpska".

The defence pointed out that Biljana Plavsic had surrendered voluntarily to the tribunal. This, they argued, pointed to Banja Luka's "positive attitude" towards the international court.

The judges' decision on whether to grant Talic temporary release is expected this week. A request from his co-accused Brdjanin was rejected in July last year.

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