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

Tolimir Again Defiant in Court

He refuses to cooperate and demands an investigation into circumstances of his arrest.
By Merdijana Sadović
Former Bosnian Serb army general Zdravko Tolimir last week refused to enter a plea on charges against him for the second time, claiming he was "unlawfully arrested, kidnapped and transferred to The Hague".

Tolimir, one of three most wanted war crimes fugitives sought by the Hague tribunal, was arrested on May 31 on the border between Bosnia and Serbia and was transferred to The Hague a day later. The operation which led to his capture was carried out by the Republika Srpska, RS, police, who acted on a tip-off from the Serbian interior ministry.

At his initial appearance before the Hague tribunal on June 4, Tolimir said he was actually captured in Serbia, where he is a citizen, and then illegally transferred to Bosnia.

He also refused to enter a plea and was given one more month to do so.

However, at his second appearance before this court on July 3, Tolimir again appeared to be very uncooperative.

He refused to identify himself in court; would not stand up while Judge Kimberley Prost was reading out charges against him; and even removed his headphones, so that he couldn’t hear the translation of the indictment.

After a failed attempt by a court official to put headphones back on his ears, a speakerphone was installed and the accused was forced to listen to the translation of the charges against him.

Tolimir, one of the closest aides of top war crimes fugitive general Ratko Mladic, was indicted in 2005 for his alleged role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Charges against him include genocide and complicity to commit genocide, as well as crimes against humanity.

At his second appearance before the Hague judges, Tolimir said he was detained by “a criminal group, not legal authorities”, and requested an “urgent investigation” into the circumstances of his arrest.

Judge Prost ordered that a plea of not guilty be entered into record on all eight counts of the indictment.

A date for the start of Tolimir‘s trial will be announced at a later stage.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague programme manager.

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