At the half-time of the trial, the defense has called for Goran Hadzic's acquittal, claiming that the prosecution has failed to prove the 14 counts in the indictment. Goran Hadzic is charged with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise in which crimes were perpetrated against the non-Serbs from June 1991 to the end of 1993 in the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and later in the Republic of Serbian Krajina

Chris Gosnell, defence attorney of Goran HadzicChris Gosnell, defence attorney of Goran Hadzic

If the evidence is considered in their entirety reasonably and fairly, none of 14 counts in the indictment that relate to the incidents between 1991 and 1993 has been proved, defense counsel Christopher Gosnell claimed in the hearing at the half-time of the trial. The sides met almost two months after the prosecution rested its case, for the defense to present the arguments under Rule 98bis, which allows the defense to seek the acquittal of the accused on the counts in the indictment which, in its view, the prosecution has failed to prove.

In two hours, the defense counsel delivered a concise presentation explaining why in his view there was no evidence to prove that Hadzic participated in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the elimination of the non-Serbs from Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, Western Srem and later the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Hadzic is charged with crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war in that region from June 1991 to the end of 1993, at the time when he was first the prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and then the president of the RSK.

The defense counsel highlighted the evidence about the crimes committed in the area of responsibility of the JNA Operations Group South, under the command of Colonel Mile Mrksic. According to the defense, the evidence shows that the only person not responsible for the crimes in the village of Lovas, in the Velepromet warehouse, on the Ovcara Farm and in the prison camps in Serbia is Goran Hadzic.

According to Gosnell, the link connecting the crimes, the perpetrators and Goran Hadzic hasn’t been proved. He blamed the JNA for the murders, persecution, extermination, detention, torture, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, deportation, forcible transfer, wanton destruction and looting. As he argued, the evidence clearly shows that the local Serbian Territorial Defense was under the control of the JNA, the army had ‘everything under control’ in Lovas, the military police were there when the prisoners were brought to Velepromet. Moreover, the chief of security and intelligence in the Guards Brigade Veseljin Sljivancanin organized, ordered and supervised the transportation of the prisoners from the Vukovar Hospital to Ovcara. Members of the Territorial Defense – also under the JNA control – then took control of the prisoners. Hadzic didn’t have anything to do with the prison facilities in Serbia, ‘hundreds of kilometers’ away from the country in which the conflict raged, the defense counsel said.

Concluding the presentation, Gosnell noted that it was a ‘voluminous case’ with 14 counts in the indictment, which rested on circumstantial evidence. ‘When you find that there is no path to a conviction, you can acquit the accused, and we urge you to do so’, the defense counsel concluded.

On Wednesday the prosecution will respond to the defense arguments. Hadzic’s trial will then be adjourned for several months to allow the defense to prepare its case, if necessary.