The Trial Chamber hearing the case against Ratko Mladic, former commander of the VRS Main Staff, ordered the prosecution to start calling its evidence on 25 June 2012. Mladic is charged with genocide and other crimes in BH

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

The first witnesses at the trial of Ratko Mladic, former commander of the VRS Main Staff, will appear in court on 25 June 2012, the Trial Chamber ordered in its decision. The prosecution would continue its case until the three-week summer recess which begins on 20 July.

The trial of the former Bosnian Serb military leader began on 16 May with the opening statement of the prosecution. Initially it was planned that the prosecution would start calling evidence on 29 May 2012. However, due to a ‘significant error of the prosecution in disclosing of the evidentiary material to the defense’ the judges suspended the trial until further notice, because they wanted to establish the impact of the delayed disclosure on the ability of the defense to cross-examine the first prosecution witnesses.

The Trial Chamber agreed with the defense that an adjournment before the start of the prosecution’s case was necessary. Nevertheless, the Trial Chamber “does not consider that the requested amount of six months should be granted”. In determining the length of the adjournment to be granted, the Chamberconsidered the work required to be performed by counsel and their support staff due to the disclosure failures of the Prosecution. The Trial Chamber concluded that the ‘effect of the disclosure failures is sometimes very small or even non-existent’. The Trial Chamber urged the prosecution to consult with the defense and make sure the witnesses called before the summer recess are those that are the least affected by the failures.

Ratko Mladic is on trial for his part in four joint criminal enterprises. The first ‘comprehensive’ joint criminal enterprise was the ethnic cleansing aimed at the forcible and permanent elimination of Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large parts of BH in 1992. In several municipalities, this reached the scale of genocide. The other three joint criminal enterprises are the artillery and sniper campaign in Sarajevo, taking UN staff hostage in May and June 1995 and the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995.