WHO ATTACKED FIRST IN MOSTAR?
The defense teams of the six former Herceg Bosna leaders contest the adjudicated facts in the judgment in the Mladen Naletilic and Vinko Martinovic case about “a well designed and prepared attack” the HVO launched on Mostar on 9 May 1993. If they had more time to cross-examine the prosecution witness, the defense counsel would be able to prove otherwise, they say
Jadranko Prlić, Milivoj Petković, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Valentin Ćorić i Berislav Pušić u sudnici Tribunala
Who attacked first in Mostar? This was the central issue for the defense counsel for the six former Herceg Bosna leaders as their trial continued. For most of this week, it has been going on in closed session.
The prosecution and its witnesses claim that on 9 May 1993 the HVO was the first to attack the BH Army positions in Mostar, while the accused and their defense counsel claim that the opposite was the case. The judges invoke the facts adjudicated in the course of the Mladen Naletilic and Vinko Martinovic trial, unequivocally pointing to a “well designed and prepared attack” the HVO launched on Mostar on 9 May 1993.
“Even if the HVO was the primary aggressor, the attack was pre-emptive”, Jadranko Prlic’s defense counsel Michael Karnavas noted. His elaboration of the claim about the HVO’s “pre-emptive attack” was redacted from the tapes and transcript of the trial because it may have led to the disclosure of the identity of protected witness CU.
This witness’s testimony is of vital importance, in the defense’s view, because he is speaking about the events of 9 May 1993. He is testifying in closed session. The judges’ decision not to allow the defense counsel to trade their shares of the time allotted to them for the examination of the witnesses led to protests both by the accused and the defense. They say that they are not given enough time to contest the allegations made by the witness.
The accused Slobodan Praljak believes that both the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber based their conclusions on who attacked Mostar in the Naletilic and Martinovic judgments on “a limited number of documents”. He is convinced that, given enough time for the cross-examination of the witness, he would be able to show that the events had unfolded in a different way.
The defense complained to the Trial Chamber that the trial was increasingly turning into “a document-handing exercise” and that the judges, under the pressure of the deadlines set by the Security Council, were actually working in the interest of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, rather than the interests of justice.
Presiding judge Antonetti stressed that the only pressure the Chamber was under was to determine the truth, indicating he would consider the issue by the end of the day and then rule on it.
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