Trial start hinges on Srebrenica evidence
Do not expect Ratko Mladic to go on trial any time soon. It now seems the earliest that the trial proper — as opposed to pre-trial proceedings now underway — can start is the summer of 2012. If the defense gets its way, the trial will not begin until early 2013, and will not wind ...
Do not expect Ratko Mladic to go on trial any time soon. It now seems the earliest that the trial proper -- as opposed to pre-trial proceedings now underway -- can start is the summer of 2012. If the defense gets its way, the trial will not begin until early 2013, and will not wind up until the end of 2014.
Do not expect Ratko Mladic to go on trial any time soon. It now seems the earliest that the trial proper — as opposed to pre-trial proceedings now underway — can start is the summer of 2012. If the defense gets its way, the trial will not begin until early 2013, and will not wind up until the end of 2014.
Earlier predictions that the trial of the Bosnian Serb military commander might open in January of next year were based on the assumption on a relatively smooth pre-trial process. The prosecution initially wanted to combine the Mladic proceedings with the trial of his nominal civilian superior, Radovan Karadzic, but that turned out to be impossible, because it left the defense with no time to prepare. They then asked for the case to be split into two — with an initial focus on the massacre of 7,000-plus Muslim males at Srebrenica in 1995 — but Mladic is adamantly opposed. His lawyers insist that the Srebrenica events must be put "in context," meaning that they must be understood in relation to everything else that happened in the four-year Bosnia war.
When I met last week with Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, he told me it would be "a number of months before the trial could start, one reason being that the defense has to review tens of thousands of documents." Mladic lawyers are demanding positive identification, preferably with DNA samples, of all the Srebrenica victims.
Mladic’s arrest on May 26 came as a huge relief for Brammertz and other members of the prosecution team. In Brammertz’s words, it would have been "a very dark chapter" for the tribunal and for the victims if Mladic had not been arrested. "It would have sent the worst possible signal — that you can sit out justice if you wait long enough."
Brammertz attributed Mladic’s arrest at least in part to the 2008 elections in Serbia which led to the election of a reformist government and "better cooperation with the tribunal." He said Mladic’s arrest had resolved the main issue with Serbia, although "we still want to know why it took so long to arrest him." He criticized as "very unfortunate" a recent statement by the prime minister of Croatia, Jadranka Kosor, describing Croatian generals convicted of war crimes as "heroes" who had defended the country against aggression.
Click on the Youtube video above for an extract from the interview. I began by asking Brammertz to describe how he felt when he heard that Mladic had finally been arrested.
Michael Dobbs is a prize-winning foreign correspondent and author. Currently serving as a Goldfarb fellow at the Committee on Conscience of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dobbs is following legal proceedings in The Hague. He has traveled to Srebrenica, Sarajevo and Belgrade, interviewed Mladic’s victims and associates, and is posting documents, video recordings, and intercepted phone calls that shed light on Mladic's personality. Twitter: @michaeldobbs
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