The trial of Ratko Mladic was adjourned because of the health of the accused, but will proceed on Wednesday with the evidence of protected witness RM 346. The trial may continue in Mladic’s presence, if he is able to attend, or the judges may decide to invoke the Tribunal’s rules and proceed in his absence by deposing the witness

Emty chair of Ratko MladicEmty chair of Ratko Mladic

Ratko Mladic didn’t appear in court on Tuesday. The Trial Chamber was informed that the accused was not able to attend the trial for health reasons.

In his report, Dr Falke from the UN Detention Unit stated that the accused had ‘visible symptoms that indicate he is too unwell to attend the trial’. Mladic’s defense counsel Branko Lukic disclosed the details of Mladic’s health to the Trial Chamber in closed session. As the accused has not waived his right to attend the trial, the judges adjourned the hearing.

The parties will be back in court on Wednesday with or without the accused to hear the evidence of protected witness RM 346. The witness survived the mass execution at the Branjevo military farm near Zvornik on 16 July 1995. Prosecutor Dermot Groom asked that the witness be allowed to testify tomorrow, because he is traumatized by the testimony and travel to The Hague, regardless of whether the accused is able to attend the hearing or not.

The prosecutor invoked Rule 71 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which stipulates that ‘in the interest of justice [the witness’s] deposition can be taken for use at trial’. The deposition, including the cross-examination the defense is entitled to, thus remains on the record and is available to the accused. The defense may recall the witness, if necessary, for the re-examination in the presence of the accused.

Depending on Mladic’s ability to attend the trial on Wednesday or to follow it from the Detention Unit via video link with a telephone line with the defense, Witness RM 346 will testify either in a regular hearing or will give a ‘deposition for use at trial’ to be continued when the accused gets better.