According to the defense counsel of the three accused, the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of Beara, Nikolic and Borovcanin. In a Rule 98 bis hearing, after the prosecution rested its case, the defense teams call for the acquittal of the accused on those counts in the indictment that they argue the prosecution failed to prove. The defense teams of the other four accused will present their arguments tomorrow

Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Milorad Trbic in the courtroomVujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Milorad Trbic in the courtroom

The defense teams of the accused Beara, Nikolic and Borovcanin believe the prosecution failed to prove that their clients are guilty on any of the counts they were charged with. They decided to focus on some counts in the indictment in their arguments today, urging the Trial Chamber nevertheless to consider acquitting them of all charges.

In the view of Christopher Meek, Ljubisa Beara’s US lawyer, the indictment against his client rests on ‘unreliable facts that lead to unreliable legal conclusions’. He criticized the prosecution for ‘calling witnesses it knew in advance they would lie’ and for ‘trading with the truth’, by encouraging the witnesses to ‘adapt their evidence to its version of events’. Ljubisa Beara is the former chief of security in the VRS General Staff.

John Ostojic, Beara’s other counsel, focused on specific counts in the indictment charging Beara with the forcible transfer and deportation of Muslim population from the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves. He refused to accept the prosecution’s allegation that the population of Srebrenica was ‘deported’ on 12 and 13 July 1995 from Potocari; he termed it an ‘evacuation’. Even if the allegation was correct, according to Ostojic, there is no evidence which would enable a reasonable trier of facts to conclude that Beara was responsible for the deportation or forceful transfer of Bosniaks from Srebrenica and Zepa.

Drago Nikolic, his defense stated, cannot be considered responsible for the deportations and forcible transfer. The evidence the prosecution presented didn’t corroborate the accusations in count 2 of the indictment, charging Nikolic with ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’. His defense counsel Stephan Bourgogne urged the Trial Chamber to acquit the former security officer of the Zvornik Brigade on counts 2, 7 and 8 of the indictment.

Ljubomir Borovcanin’s defense also believes that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused took part in the ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’. There is no evidence that Borovcanin attended a meeting where ‘an alleged agreement was made to destroy the Bosniaks in Srebrenica and Zepa. According to the indictment, Borovcanin was the coordinator of the interior ministry troops involved in the Srebrenica operation.

Aleksandar Lazarevic, Borovcanin’s lawyer, corroborated his claim with quotes from the testimony of Belgrade journalist Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac. Pirocanac testified that in mid-July 1995 he made a report from Srebrenica with Borovcanin’s approval. ‘Why would Mr. Borovcanin allow an independent journalist to freely tape anything he thought interesting, if he knew of this agreement and took part in it?’, Borovcanin’s defense counsel asked. Lazarevic also called for the acquittal of Borovcanin on the count charging him with the deportation of Bosniaks from Srebrenica and Zepa.

Vuajdin Popovic's defense will not present any Rule 98 bis arguments. The defense teams of the other three accused – Milan Gvero, Radivoje Miletic and Vinko Pandurevic – will do so tomorrow. The prosecution will reply on next Monday.