Noting that this is "a very important witness" whom he "knew very well," Momcilo Krajisnik seeks permission from the Trial Chamber to ask a protected prosecution witness a few questions after his defense counsel completes his cross-examination.

Momcilo Krajisnik in the courtroomMomcilo Krajisnik in the courtroom

After a two-week break, the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik continued today. The former Bosnian Serb leader is charged with genocide and other war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991 and 1992. The trial was conducted in open session for just a few minutes, with the accused asking judges to allow him to ask a few questions of a protected prosecution witness after his defense counsel completes his cross-examination.

Krajisnik first wanted to make his request in closed session, saying he "wanted to avoid unnecessary publicity," but the judge replied that was not sufficient reason to deny public access to the hearing. Krajisnik then said that "a very important witness" was about to be heard, a witness he "knew very well"; his defense counsel, Nicholas Stewart had "not managed to prepare properly" for his cross-examination. That is why, said Krajisnik, he was asking the Trial Chamber to allow him to ask a few questions himself. He added that "there would be several other such witnesses" in the future who he would like to question himself.

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie found that granting Krajisnik's demand would set a precedent contrary to common law practice but not to civil law tradition. The Trial Chamber will, Judge Orie announced, deliver its ruling on the matter later--either at the beginning or in the course of Krajisnik's lawyer’s cross-examination of the prosecution witness.

After that, the "very important witness" that the accused "knows very well" started his testimony in closed session. The testimony is expected to last several days.