The prosecution admitted it failed to disclose some of the documents the defense needs to prepare for the trial, without ‘good excuse’. However, at the pre-trial conference in the case against Ratko Mladic, the prosecution assured the judges and the defense that most of the documents for the first witnesses had been disclosed on time. For the time being, the prosecution case will not be delayed. Mladic claims he has problems with ‘short-term memory’ and has requested the prosecution to deliver documents he already has

Ratko Mladic in the courtroonRatko Mladic in the courtroon

The pre-trial conference in the case of former commander of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic which began last week continued today. The parties discussed the current state of disclosure of potentially exculpatory materials and documents the defense needs to prepare for the cross-examination of witnesses. The prosecutor today admitted there had been some mistakes in the disclosure of some documents and transcripts of the evidence of witnesses who had testified at previous trials. These transcripts are however available at the Tribunal’s public website, except for the parts that proceeded in closed session. The prosecutor added that ‘there is no good excuse’ for this error.

Most of the documents relating to the 23 witnesses who are supposed to testify before the Tribunal’s summer recess have been disclosed. As the presiding judge Orie noted, it is to be expected that some documents will be disclosed with a delay. In that case, the testimony of some witnesses may be postponed or they may be recalled for re-examination, the presiding judge explained. The Trial Chamber obviously wants the trial to begin on time and would prefer to order short breaks as the trial goes on.

The defense’s motion to schedule the opening of the prosecution case 90 days after the full disclosure is still pending. The judges were supposed to deliver the informal decision to the parties today, but there was no indication whether the decision would be made public.

The prosecution today urged the Trial Chamber to alter its guidelines for the trial because they significantly hinder the presentation of the prosecution case. The guidelines instruct the prosecution to take new consolidated statements from the witnesses who have previously testified before the Tribunal. Furthermore, the number of documents the prosecution may tender into evidence with written statements is limited. The presiding judge indicated the judges would consider the prosecution’s motion.

Mladic’s defense lawyer Lukic told the Trial Chamber about his client’s problems as he reviews the materials disclosed by the prosecution. Mladic complains that he is unable to keep logging in and out of the computer system all the time because he has ‘problems with short-term memory’. Mladic has purportedly received written instructions only in English. Judge Orie recalled that the Trial Chamber had a document signed by Mladic confirming that he had received the instructions in Serbian too. Judge Orie advised defense to first enquire into the details of a problem before they present it to the Trial Chamber.

Mladic also complained about the regime of visits of his friends and relatives and his ability to send letters from the detention unit, his defense counsel said. The accused wanted to address the Trial Chamber on these issues, but the judges didn’t permit it, because this was the pre-trial conference, rather than a status conference. The judges invited the defense to present Mladic’s latest alleged problems in writing. At the hearing today, the accused occasionally made loud remarks to the defense lawyers and the judges. As the hearing drew to a close, Mladic cursed to himself.

According to the current schedule, Mladic is due back in court on 16 and 17 May for the prosecution opening statement. The prosecution will call its first witness on 29 May 2012, unless the Trial Chamber grants the defense’s request to postpone the trial.