Defense of Ratko Mladic requests Verdict to be postponed

The defense of Ratko Mladic, a former Republika Srpska Army commander convicted of war crimes in the first instance, requested that the verdict be postponed until both defense attorneys could be present in person in court, along with their client.

“Under these unforeseen, unfortunate and extreme circumstances, Ratko Mladic’s defense respectfully requests the Appeals Chamber to stop the sentencing hearing and adjourn it until both defense counsel can attend the trial in person with the client,” the defense counsel Branko Lukic said in a statement.

To date, the parties to the dispute have had to inform the Mechanism as to whether any of the defense counsel or Mladic himself will choose to participate in the hearing via video conference.

“Immediately after setting the date of the verdict, Ratko Mladic said that he opposes any type of video link and insists that he be present in person in the courtroom, accompanied by both his defense attorneys Branko Lukic and Dragan Ivetic,” the request reads, Srna news agency writes.

The final verdict against Ratko Mladic, the wartime commander of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) will be handed down on June 8 this year before the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts (ICTY) in The Hague. 

In 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Mladic to life in prison for genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995, persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorizing civilians during the siege of Sarajevo and taking members UNPROFOR as hostages, during the 1992-1995 war in BiH.

On 12 May 1992, Ratko Mladić was appointed Commander of the Main Staff of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“VRS”). He remained in command of the VRS Main Staff until at least 8 November 1996.

Sentenced by an ICTY Trial Chamber to life imprisonment on 22 November 2017.

On 18 December 2017, Ratko Mladić filed a motion seeking an extension of time to file his notice of appeal against the ICTY Trial Judgment.

On 19 December 2017, the President of the Mechanism assigned a bench of five judges to this case before the Appeals Chamber. On 21 December 2017, the pre-appeal judge partly granted the motion for an extension of time and ordered that any notices of appeal in this case be filed within 120 days of the issuance of the ICTY Trial Judgement. On 22 March 2018 both parties filed their notices of appeal. Following a further extension of time granted on 22 May 2018 for the filing of the appellant’s and respondent’s briefs, the parties filed confidentially their respective appellant’s briefs on 6 August 2018. On 7 August 2018 and 11 September 2018, respectively, the Prosecution and Mladić filed the public redacted versions of their appellants’ briefs. 

On 18 June 2018, Mladić requested the disqualification of Judges Meron, Agius, and Liu from the appeals bench in this case on the basis of actual or apparent bias. On 20 June 2018, the President of the Mechanism referred the matter to Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti. On 3 September 2018, Judge Antonetti upheld Mladić’s requests and, on 4 September 2018, assigned Judges Mparany Mamy Richard Rajohnson, Gberdao Gustave Kam, and Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya to replace Judges Meron, Agius, and Liu on the appeals bench in this case. On 12 September 2018, Judge Rajohnson requested to withdraw from the bench in this case and, 16 September 2018, he was replaced with Judge Aminatta Lois Runeni N’gum.

On 12 September 2018, after Judge Nyambe’s election as the Presiding Judge in this case, she was designated as the Pre-Appeal Judge. On 14 November 2018, both parties filed their respective response briefs and on 29 November 2018, their respective reply briefs.

Recent developments:  

The appeal hearing in the case took place on 25 and 26 August 2020 at the Mechanism’s Hague branch.

On 18 February 2021, the President assigned Judge Mustapha El Baaj to replace Judge Kam on the appeals bench in this case after his unfortunate passing.

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