Today and tomorrow, before the Mechanism for International Criminal Courts (IMC), the Prosecution and the Defense are appealing the verdict against the former commander of the General Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), Ratko Mladic.
Today, on the first day of the appeal, Mladic’s Defense presented all its allegations for three hours, followed by the Prosecution’s response. The Defense’s appeals against Ratko Mladic’s verdict continued due to technical obstacles and pauses, as well as the lawyers’ reliance on the factual conclusions from the first-instance verdict finding him guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens and taking UNPROFOR hostages, and sentenced to life imprisonment, Klix.ba news portal reports.
Dragan Ivetic, Mladic’s lawyer, constantly repeated the objection concerning his current presence at the appeal hearing, the impossibility of preparation with the client, and the question of the accused’s ability to attend and follow the trial.
“I request that my participation not be considered as agreeing or acknowledging today’s appeal hearing as appropriate, nor do we waive what is stated in the submission,” Ivetic said.
He considers that the Appeals Chamber should correct the errors in the JCE Trial Judgment in the interests of justice because, in its view, the Trial Chamber’s erroneous approach to the evaluation of the evidence and their misapplication led to erroneous findings regarding the comprehensive JCE.
Ivetic drew attention to the time and geographical scope, noting that Mladic neither was not in BiH during 1991, nor was he in the VRS command structure.
“The first mistake of the Chamber is that it violated the jurisprudence by trying to link his 1991 speeches to BiH, at a time when Mladic was neither temporally nor geographically linked to those events. Mladic was not in the chain of command and did not receive reports of certain events and could not issue orders to persons outside his chain of command, “Ivetic said.
The defense insists that Operation Krivaja “95 “was a legitimate military operation, that a large number of Bosniaks were killed in legitimate attacks on a column through the forest, and that Mladic did not know of any plan to kill able-bodied men.
He stated that Mladic was far from Srebrenica, and attended a secret peace meeting in Belgrade as well.
He could not have effective control, Ivetic believes. “The conclusion that he issued orders while he was physically and geographically in another country is contrary to the evidence and is not logical,” says Ivetic.
On 22 November 2017, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”) issued its judgement in the case of Prosecutor v. Mladić (“Trial Judgement”). The Trial Chamber convicted Ratko Mladić, former Commander of the Main Staff of the Army of the Bosnian Serb Republic (“VRS”), of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or customs of war. He was acquitted of genocide in relation to Count 1 of the Indictment. Mladić was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Trial Chamber found that Mladić committed these crimes through his participation in four joint criminal enterprises. In this regard, it found that: (i) from 12 May 1992 until 30 November 1995, Mladić participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective of permanently removing Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BiH”) through persecution, extermination, murder, inhumane acts, and deportation; (ii) between 12 May 1992 and November 1995, Mladić participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective of spreading terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo through a campaign of sniping and shelling; (iii) from the days immediately preceding 11 July 1995 to at least October 1995, Mladić participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective of eliminating the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by killing the men and boys, and forcibly removing the women, young children, and some elderly men; and (iv) from approximately 25 May 1995 to approximately 24 June 1995, Mladić participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective to capture United Nations personnel deployed in BiH and detain them in strategic military locations to prevent the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from launching further military air strikes on Bosnian Serb military targets.
Mladić was initially indicted on 24 July 1995. After being at large for almost sixteen years, he was arrested in Serbia on 26 May 2011 and transferred to the ICTY on 31 May 2011. The trial commenced on 16 May 2012 and lasted a total of 530 days, during which some 9,914 exhibits were admitted and the Trial Chamber heard or received evidence of a total of 592 witnesses.
Both the Defence and Prosecution appealed the Trial Judgement. Mladić requested the Appeals Chamber to extend the deadlines for the briefing process. The Appeals Chamber partly granted the requests, allowing a total of 210 days in extensions of time. Accordingly, both parties filed their respective notices of appeal against the Trial Judgement on 22 March 2018, their respective appellant’s briefs on 6 August 2018, their respective respondent’s briefs on 14 November 2018, and finally their respective reply briefs on 29 November 2018.
On 18 June 2018, Mladić requested the disqualification of Judges Theodor Meron, Carmel Agius, and Liu Daqun from the appeals bench in this case on the basis of actual or apparent bias. The matter was referred to Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti. On 3 September 2018, Judge Antonetti granted Mladić’s requests and, on 4 September 2018, assigned Judges Mparany Mamy Richard Rajohnson, Gberdao Gustave Kam, and Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya to replace Judges Meron, Agius, and Liu. As of 14 September 2018, following the withdrawal of Judge Rajohnson and his replacement by Judge Aminatta Lois Runeni N’gum, the appeals bench in this case is composed of Judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe (Presiding), Judge Aminatta Lois Runeni N’gum, Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam, Judge Seymour Panton, and Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya.
The Mechanism was established on 22 December 2010 by the United Nations Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICTY, including completion of a limited number of cases which are inherited from the work of these two tribunals.