Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Zdravko Tolimir in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
At a status conference held this week, Hague tribunal judges set January 9, 2012 for the beginning of the defence case in the trial of Zdravko Tolimir, a former high-ranking officer in the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS.
However, Tolimir – who is representing himself in court – requested that the defence case start two weeks later, after the Orthodox Christmas and New Year holidays observed by Serbs, which start later than their western European counterparts. He explained that a postponement would enable defence witnesses to spend the holiday period with their families before they came to The Hague to testify.
Presiding judge Christopher Flügge said that the trial chamber would have to take time to consider this request, adding that “the accused has to consider that there are certain organisational issues at the tribunal as a whole, and that the extension of the deadline may cause significant overall delays in the tribunal’s work”.
Tolimir informed the judges that he would not make an opening statement at the beginning of the defence case, but would immediately start questioning the first witness.
He is planning to call four witnesses and has asked for 36 hours to question them. Tolimir, whose trial began in February 2010, is expected to wrap up the defence case by the beginning of March next year.
During the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, Tolimir was assistant commander for intelligence in the VRS main staff, reporting directly to the army’s commander General Ratko Mladic.
Mladic is currently awaiting trial for genocide at the Hague tribunal.
Tolimir is charged with eight counts, including genocide, extermination, murder, and the forced transfer and deportation of Bosniaks from the eastern Bosnian enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa in July 1995.
The first indictment against Tolimir was presented in February 2005 and he was arrested on May 31, 2007. On December 16, 2009, he pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Velma Saric is an IWPR-trained reporter in Sarajevo.
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