The Trial Chamber hearing the case of six former Herceg Bosna leaders dismissed all motions for partial or full acquittal of the accused. Their defense teams will have a case to answer in their cases

Jadranko Prlić, Milivoj Petković, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Valentin Ćorić i Berislav Pušić u sudnici TribunalaJadranko Prlić, Milivoj Petković, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Valentin Ćorić i Berislav Pušić u sudnici Tribunala

The defense counsel of the six former Herceg Bosna leaders will have a lot to challenge when the defense case opens on 5 May 2008, as scheduled. The Trial Chamber reached this decision, having considered the Rule 98 bis arguments presented by the parties. The Trial Chamber dismissed all defense motions for the partial and/or full acquittal of the accused. The trial has thus entered its second half, after the prosecution rested its case.

Emphasizing that at this stage the Trial Chamber decided not whether a conviction ‘will be handed down’, but whether it ‘can be handed down’, presiding judge Jean-Claude Antonetti said that the Trial Chamber concluded that the prosecution presented enough evidence to corroborate all counts in the indictment. Former Bosnian Croat leaders are charged with crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of laws and customs of war in Central Bosnia and Western Herzegovina in 1993 and 1994.

As the French judge said, the Trial Chamber also concluded that the evidence presented by the prosecution could lead every reasonable trier of facts to conclude that from 18 November 1991 to April 1994 there existed a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the ethnic cleansing and permanent removal of the Muslims and other non-Croats from the territory of the so-called Herceg Bosna, the ultimate objective being its annexation to a Greater Croatia within the borders of the 1939 Croatian Banovina.

In the meantime, the Trial Chamber decided to grant provisional release to the accused Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic and Valentin Coric during the adjournment. The same request for provisional release filed by Berislav Pusic was not considered yet. Pusic hasn’t attended the hearings lately because of his health problems.