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Todorovic Case - Appeal Against S-For 'Binding Orders'

Tribunal Update 196 Last Week in The Hague (October 23-30, 2000)
By IWPR

Prosecutors tabled an appeal against the October 18 decision on October 25, in which they said the move "constitutes an abuse of the Trial Chamber's discretion…. unwarranted by the circumstances of this case."


Todorovic, former police chief in Bosanski Samac, stands accused of ethnic cleansing. He claims he was kidnapped inside Serbia, illegally moved to Bosnia, and sold to S-For troops for 50,000 German marks.


His defence team argue his fundamental rights were violated.They demand that the defendant be released and returned to his "country of refuge". They are also calling for the indictment against Todorovic to be dismissed.


The prosecution is appealing against the "binding order". They do not dispute the court has the authority to issue binding orders to entities or organisations such as S-For, but the court must "be satisfied that the requested documents or evidence are relevant to the trial."


Documents relating to Todorovic's arrest, the prosecution argue, are not relevant to his case and trial. Even if the defendant were to prove his claims correct, the prosecution added, he would not have the right to request release or for the indictment to be dropped.


"Unless and until the issue of whether or not the accused can be granted the remedy he seeks is resolved, no compelling legal reasons exist to issue binding orders," the prosecution pointed out.


The prosecution went on "these unnecessary orders for disclosure... are likely to have far- reaching and deleterious effects upon the safety and security of S-For personnel and its future ability and willingness to apprehend additional indictees of this tribunal.


"Any requirement by the tribunal that such states and entities disclose such details... may lead to a withdrawal of their willingness to provide such voluntary assistance. That would be contrary to the interests of the tribunal and would seriously jeopardise its ability to fulfil its mandate.


"The tribunal should therefore not seek to enquire into such matters without a compelling legal reason to do so. The prosecution submits that no such circumstances exist in the case before the trial chamber."


A letter from S-For's lawyers sent on July 9 raised similar objections to handing over the requested documents, saying Todorovic's release "...would create circumstances in which there would be little point in apprehending additional indictees." (See Tribunal Update No. 184)


Up until July, S-For had been arresting Hague suspects at a rate of almost one a month. Since then only one arrest has been attempted. The accused, Janko Janjic, blew himself up with a hand grenade, wounding several German S-For commandos.