The defense demands that the prosecution amend the indictment to include the names of the victims and perpetrators of the crimes the former VRS Main Staff commander is charged with. If the prosecution cannot do this, the defense urges the judges to “dismiss the counts based on defective portions of the indictment”, including those for genocide in Srebrenica and terror campaign against citizens of Sarajevo

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

Ratko Mladic’s defense has exercised its right to file preliminary motion objecting to the form of the indictment. The former commander of the Bosnian Serb army is charged in 11 counts with double genocide in BH, crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war. In its motion, the defense contends that the prosecution has alleged ‘general and vague references’ instead of clear allegations with the names of both victims and perpetrators of the crimes Mladic is charged with.

The defense is aware that the prosecution is not obliged to name each victim if the scope of a crime is extensive. Nevertheless the defense contends that victims should be listed in the indictment with their names, date of birth, personal ID number, address, father’s name and all other available personal data. If this is not done, an ‘imprecise’ indictment will ‘drastically impede’ the ability of the defense to prepare ‘efficiently and effectively’ for the trial.

As the defense noted, the indictment is “shockingly” defective, “vague and non-specific“. The prosecution fails to provide the names to identify ‘a single, solitary victim’ of the crimes in Srebrenica, Sarajevo and other municipalities alleged in the indictment, with the exception of two persons who were killed and 22 who were injured in Sarajevo in sniping incidents. Instead of giving the names and exact number of victims in the indictment, the defense noted, there were unspecified expressions like ‘approximately’, ‘at least’, ‘about’, ‘more than’, ‘up to’ and ‘a number of’ dead persons. A good example is the annex pertaining to the Srebrenica genocide, which states that ‘some’ in a group of ‘about’ 1,000 men were killed in the school in Rocevici, and ‘the rest’ were killed at the Drina river bank near the place called Kozluk. The defense claimed that even when specific number of persons killed at a location is given in the indictment, there were no names of the victims.

According to the defense, there is a similar problem with victims of torture, murder and rape in detention facilities and other locations in the municipalities listed in the indictment and the charges related to forced labor performed by prisoners. The names are not listed and the victims are again identified as ‘Bosnian Muslims and Croats’.

A part of the motion contained the defense’s objections against four counts in the indictment alleging rape. The defense believes they are defective because the victims’ names are not specified and “no concrete nor even general details are provided for dates nor locations” of the crimes, let alone ‘the perpetrators’ names’.

Mladic’s defense counsel Branko Lukic urged the Trial Chamber to dismiss those parts of the indictment that contain alleged defects and to order the prosecution to either “properly plead them with specificity, or if it is unable to do so, to remove them from these proceedings“.