In the biggest search operation among the documents in the history of the Tribunal, the prosecution found and disclosed to the accused Milosevic more than 400,000 pages of potentially exculpatory material

Slobodan Miloševic during the cross examinationSlobodan Miloševic during the cross examination

In the “largest disclosure exercise in the history of the Tribunal”, the prosecutors have so far reviewed nearly two million pages of documentaty material in their archive. From this mass of documents, they identified and disclosed to the accused 441,751 pages of "potentially exculpatory" material.

Most of the material has been found in the electronic files of the Office of the Prosecutor, and the search operation has cost almost a million and a half dollars to date, as is stated the report filed by the OTP to the Trial Chamber at the end of the prosecution case in the Milosevic trial. In accordance with Rule 68 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Office of the Prosecutor is obliged to disclose to every accused, or their defense counsel, "any material which in the actual knowledge of the Prosecutor may suggest the innocence or mitigate the guilt of the accused or affect the credibility of the prosecution evidence". The judges at the Tribunal insist on this obligation of the prosecution, cautioning that it is "as important as the obligation to prosecute".

In this respect, the prosecutors in the Milosevic case believe that they have ’’fulfilled their obligations to the best of their ability". They stress, however, that this is a highly complex undertaking, not only because of the scope of the case itself – it stretches over a period of ten years and the territory of three states – but primarily because the accused, who does not recognize the legitimacy of the Tribunal, never formally stated his defense to the charges for the crimes in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The prosecutors have had to guess which materials may be relevant for Milosevic's line of defense, which has substantially expanded the scope of the search and the number of documents and other materials (video tapes, intercepts, etc.) that have been disclosed.

Milosevic has never responded to the requests of the prosecution to suggest possible areas of his defense and thus facilitate the search. However, the prosecutors did receive some suggestions from the amici curiae, and were able to draw their own conclusions on the basis of Milosevic's opening statements as to what his line of defense might be. They defined the topics very broadly and searched for any document that may be related to them.

For the Kosovo case, for instance, the topics include the KLA activities in 1998 and 1999, NATO operations and any materials relevant for Milosevic's knowledge or lack thereof about the events in the field. Based on Milosevic's cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, it is assumed that he will use the claim that the Kosovo Albanians were driven out of their homes by the KLA and NATO bombardment as his defense and that he had no knowledge of any killings.

As regards Croatia and BH, documents cover the topics including the operations of the Croatian Army and the BH Army, activities of presidents Tudjman and Izetbegovic and the relationship between Milosevic and the JNA and leaderships of Serbs outside Serbia. The assumption is that in this part of the case, Milosevic will use the claim that Serbs in Croatia and BH were defending themselves against Croat and Muslim attacks, that the JNA was there to safeguard the territorial integrity of the SFRY and that Serbia had no control over the events there.

The "largest search" at the Tribunal, however, is not over yet. The prosecution would need months, if not years, to find every single potentially exculpatory document lying about in the archive. Furthermore, if Milosevic presents any new arguments in his defense, the prosecution will carry out additional searches in the archive, looking for exculpatory evidence.