Despite the fact that one of the three judges in the Trial Chamber resigned at the very close of the prosecution case, the trial of Sefer Halilovic is to continue on Thursday, with the testimony of Vehbija Karic. He will testify via video-link

Sefer Halilovic in the courtroomSefer Halilovic in the courtroom

As the prosecution case drew to a close, one of the three judges in the Trial Chamber, Gyorgy Szenasi from Hungary, resigned for health reasons, as has been announced. Sefer Halilovic agreed that the proceedings should continue without delay, and a new judge will be appointed this week, before the trial is set to continue on Thursday, 2 May.

At the status conference today, the parties discussed procedural matters as the defense prepares to start with its case. The defense counsel were given the deadline of 13 June to submit their witness list. The defense case should start on 20 June. The schedule may change if necessary. Defense counsel Peter Morrissey noted that it would be difficult at that point to state with any precision how long the defense case would take; his approximation is six weeks.

Vehbija Karic is scheduled to testify on Thursday, 2 May, via video link from Sarajevo. His deposition was admitted into evidence in April. Because of his bad health, the Chamber agreed to hear him via video link. Only the judges will be putting questions to Karic. The examination will last 45 minutes and will be limited to issues pertaining to the allegations in the indictment.

In September 1993, Vehbija Karic was a member of the BH Army inspection team during the Neretva '93 operation. The indictment against Sefer Halilovic alleges that as Karic visited the unit stationed in Grabovica, some soldiers complained about their accommodation. Karic then showed "in word and gesture indicated that the troops should try those Bosnian Croat civilians summarily and throw them into the Neretva river if they did not co-operate." Several prosecution witnesses corroborated the allegations, but the defence claims the incident never happened.

Sefer Halilovic is charged with failing to prevent the crimes in the Herzegovinian villages of Grabovica and Uzdol and failing to launch an investigation and punish the perpetrators.