Mladic war crimes trial postponed over evidence disclosures

[JURIST] The trial of former Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic [ICTY case materials; JURIST news archive] began Wednesday in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] but was postponed indefinitely on Thursday due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. After opening statements concluded on Thursday, Judge Alphons Orie adjourned the trial [B92 report] to allow the defense more time to consider the evidence the prosecution will present. Orie found that the prosecution erred in delaying transfer of evidence and felt the defense had been hindered. Orie stated the judges' panel will review the scope of the errors made by prosecution and did not suggest they were intentional. Proceedings began on Wednesday with opening statements, although the defense declined to speak until the prosecution begins presenting evidence. The prosecution focused on detailing the Srebrenica massacre [BBC backgrounder], although also generally accused Mladic of committing genocide against both Muslims and Croats and having a hand in all of the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) during the conflict.

Mladic is charged with several counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive]. His lawyers requested the trial be delayed for six months. Orie did not suggest a potential date for the trial to resume.

Earlier this month, ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told reporters that he believes Mladic is mentally and physically fit to stand trial, although an ordered a medical exam [JURIST reports] of Mladic in November has yet to be officially released. In April Mladic pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to all charges presented by the ICTY. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder, political persecution, forcible transfer and deportations, cruel treatment and the taking of peacekeepers as hostages. In February Mladic accused the tribunal of bias and sought to delay his trial [JURIST reports] once again. A three-judge panel for the ICTY accepted a request brought by prosecutors to reduce the number of crimes [JURIST report] they intend to prove against Mladic from 196 to 106 in December, in an effort to accelerate the proceedings. The ICTY prosecutor refused to seek further appeal [JURIST report] of the tribunal's refusal to split Mladic's trial into separate actions: one for his conduct during the Srebrenica massacre, where approximately 8,000 people were killed, and one for all of his other charges during the Bosnian civil war. Serbian authorities arrested Mladic after a 16-year search [JURIST report] in May of last year.

 

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