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Zupljanin's Bid to be Tried With Karadzic Rejected

Judges decide that joining cases would complicate Serb policeman’s trial.
By Simon Jennings
Tribunal judges have rejected a former Bosnian Serb police chief’s application to have his war crimes trial joined to that of ex-Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic.

Stojan Zupljanin had requested on December 3 that his case – and that of co-accused Mico Stanisic – be joined with Karadzic’s on the basis that the charges against all three men significantly overlap.

However, judges ruled this week that the case against Karadzic was “much broader” than that of the others and joining the trials could cause proceedings against Stanisic and Zupljanin to become drawn out.

“It is clear that the case against Stanisic and Zupljanin is but a small part of the case against Karadzic,” stated judges in the ruling.

“[Joining] the two trials can be anticipated to delay considerably the reaching of a decision in respect of the guilt or innocence of Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin.”

The trial of Zupljanin and Stanisic, who surrendered to the tribunal voluntarily in 2005, is set to start in coming months.

Zupljanin faces trial on ten counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war linked to efforts to expand Serbia’s borders during 1992.

His lawyers claimed that the allegations against him concerning the removal of Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs from the territory of the planned Serbian state were part of the same common plan for which Karadzic is also standing trial.

Stanisic, who was part of the Serbian ministry of internal affairs in the early 1990s, opposed the request for joint proceedings.

Although he, like Karadzic, is charged with crimes related to the “ethnic cleansing” of the region allegedly committed from April 1 to December 31, 1992, his lawyers argued that joining the cases would prolong his trial.

Judges sided with Stanisic and ruled that the Zupljanin-Stanisic trial is much nearer to starting than that of Karadzic any delay would not serve the interests of justice. The court’s statute guarantees a defendant’s right to an expeditious trial.

Karadzic himself is currently awaiting the confirmation of the charges against him. If confirmed, he will be tried on 11 counts of war crimes – including two separate counts of genocide – allegedly carried out in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. He supported a joint trial, arguing that it would help his defence, and would prevent several witnesses having to come to The Hague twice to testify in both trials.

While judges accepted that holding the two trials separately could impose a greater burden on witnesses and involve some duplicated evidence, they placed greater emphasis on ensuring a less complex case and a prompt start to the Zupljanin-Stanisic proceedings.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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