The judges have accepted that the crimes Zupljanin, Stanisic and Karadzic are charged with were part of the same ‘common plan’ to forcibly and permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large swaths of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but they have nevertheless agreed that the joinder of their cases would not be in the interest of justice, since the indictment against the former Republika Srpska president is ‘significantly broader in scope’ that the other indictments

Stojan Zupljanin in the courtroomStojan Zupljanin in the courtroom

The special panel of judges with Judge O-Gon Kwon presiding rejected the motion filed by Stojan Zupljanin for a joint trial with Mico Stanisic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Radovan Karadzic himself was very much in favor of Zupljanin’s motion, seeing in the joinder his chance to ‘share the burden of defense’ with the other two accused. Mico Stanisic and the prosecution opposed the motion, noting that the joinder would result in the delay of their trial and would unnecessarily prolong the proceedings against the former top police officers in Republika Srpska and the Autonomous Region of Krajina.

Although the panel agreed that the acts and omissions the three accused are charged with were part of ‘the same transaction’ and ‘the same common plan’ to forcibly and permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serbs from large swaths of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they noted that the indictment against Radovan Karadzic was ‘significantly broader in scope’. This indictment, said the judges in their decision to deny the joinder motion, includes a number of allegations that Zupljanin and Stanisic are not charged with, such as mass murders and deportations of Muslims in Srebrenica 1995, the extensive shelling and sniper terror campaign in Sarajevo and taking UN personnel hostage in May and June 1995. Not only is his case much broader because of this: it is much more complex. The indictments also cover different times: Karadzic is charged with crimes that occurred between 1 July 1991 and 19 July 1996, while the joint indictment against Zupljanin and Stanisic is limited to the period between 1 April and 31 December 1992.

In ruling on Zupljanin’s motion, the panel bore in mind the fact that Stanisic has been awaiting trial since May 2005. Furthermore, the pre-trial procedure in the case against the two former policemen is at an advanced stage, while Karadzic’s case is in the earliest stage, because the judges have yet to rule on the motion to amend his indictment. The joinder of the two cases, the judges concluded, would lead to further delay and would result in a much more complex and longer trial for Zupljanin and Stanisic, violating their right to be tried without undue delay.