At the half-time of the trial, Ratko Mladic’s defense dismissed all of the evidence called by the prosecution, noting that the former commander of the VRS Main Staff ‘is looking forward’ for the defense case to start because he wants to ‘show the truth and demonstrate his innocence’

Dragan Ivetic, defence attorney of Ratko MladicDragan Ivetic, defence attorney of Ratko Mladic

At the beginning of his presentation at the Rule 98 bis hearing, Mladic's defense counsel Dragan Ivetic said that nothing in my argument and the choice of topics should be interpreted as an admission or acceptance of any part of the prosecution case against Ratko Mladic. On the contrary, Ivetic noted, the defense didnt give any weight to the prosecutions evidence and dismissed its case in its entirety. According to Ivetic, Mladic is looking forward for his defense case to start. He is confident that with the help of his witnesses he will show the truth that will demonstrate his innocence.

Rule 98 bis grants the accused the right to petition the judges to acquit them on some or all counts in the indictment after the prosecution has rested its case, if in the view of the accused the prosecution has failed to call evidence that may lead to a conviction, if uncontested.

Mladic's defense lawyer arguedthat his client should be acquitted of the individual crimes for which the prosecution has failed to call sufficient evidence to support a conviction, not only of the entire counts in the indictment, as envisaged under Rule 98 bis. Ivetic made detailed references to some of the allegations in the indictment. He spoke about the incident of the bank of the river Jadar, on 13 July 1995, when the VRS troops executed 16 Bosniaks captured after the fall of Srebrenica. The only survivor testified about the massacre under the pseudonym RM 314. Next, Ivetic mentioned the shelling of the Sarajevo neighborhood of Sirokaca, in which witness Fadila Tarcin was injured. He also spoke about the destruction of religious buildings in Bijeljina, Kalinovik, Pale and other municipalities under the VRS control mentioned in the testimony of prosecution expert Andras Riedlmayer.

According to Ivetic, the evidence of the survivor from the Jadar bank was full of inconsistencies, contravening the documentary findings, lacking in credibility. As for the evidence on the shelling of Sirokaca, it 'fell apart, Ivetic said, adding that the testimony of witness Tarcin contradicted the rest of the evidence'. As a result, the charges relating to this incident should be dropped from the indictment. Finally, the defense counsel argued that Riedlmayers expertise on the destruction of cultural and religious buildings was based on anonymous information and unknown, second-hand or third-hand evidence that does not meet the minimum requirements for the establishment ofcriminal responsibility. Ivetic noted that the prosecution had failed to establish who and to what purpose caused damage to the Muslim religious buildings.

According to Mladics defense counsel, at the half-time of the trial Mladic should be acquitted of the crimes committed by the MUP, Arkans Tigers and other paramilitary formations as the accused didnt have effective control over them. This includes the crime committed by the Scorpions unit, the execution of six Bosniak youths and boys. 'However horrible, this crime didnt have anything to do with Mladic. Mladic wasnt present at the execution and the perpetrators didnt mention him, Ivetic explained. Speaking about the Tomasica mine, Ivetic invoked an entry from Mladics diary mentioning 5,000 bodies at that location. Ivetic argued that the police had tried to blame the military for what they had done.

Finally, as the defense counsel argued, the prosecution has failed to prove that genocide was committed in seven municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that Mladic played any role in the genocide in Srebrenica. As far as Srebrenica was concerned, Ivetic stressed that Radovan Karadzic was the author of Directive 7. In fact,Mladic decided to omit from the directive the controversial sentence By planned and well-thought-out combat operations create an unbearable situation of total insecurity, with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica or Zepa, as well as the order to separate the enclaves Srebrenica and Zepa by force.

As the hearing continues tomorrow, the Trial Chamber will hear the prosecutions response to the defense argument.