SREBRENICA MASSACRE SUSPECT TO BE TRIED IN BOSNIA
May 8, 2006
Prosecution Wants Srebrenica Suspect Tried in Bosnia
Prosecutors have asked for the case against Milorad Trbic, a former Bosnian Serb soldier currently awaiting trial in The Hague on genocide charges relating to Srebrenica, to be transferred to the Bosnian court system.
Trbic had been expected to stand trial before the tribunal in August or September this year, along with seven others accused of involvement in the executions of thousands of Bosniak men and boys after Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb army in July 1995.
But in her latest submission published on May 4, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte argues that transferring his case to Sarajevo would ease the strain on the court’s resources, which have been “expanded to the maximum” to handle the planned joint trial. To date, the largest trials in The Hague have involved no more than six defendants.
Del Ponte also notes that sending Trbic to Bosnia would make room for higher-ranking officers to be added to the joint Srebrenica trial in The Hague. The indictment against Trbic and his co-accused includes a ninth suspect, Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir, who remains on the run. Prosecutors have also said former army chief Ratko Mladic could be added to the joint trial if and when he is taken into custody.
The tribunal’s rules require that decisions on whether to refer cases to other courts must take into account the gravity of the crime in question and the level of responsibility attributed to the accused.
While Del Ponte acknowledges that the crimes committed at Srebrenica were “of the greatest magnitude”, she argues that Trbic held a low rank at the time and had “minimal authority”.
Del Ponte is also asking that the Bosnian authorities to be given a chance to present their own views on the matter to the Hague court.
Prosecutors have previously said that Trbic has implicated several of his co-accused in the Srebrenica crimes – both in testimony he gave in separate proceedings in The Hague against two other officers, Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic, and in statements that he has provided to the prosecution.
The transfer of cases to judicial systems in the Balkans is part of an effort to wind down the work of the Hague tribunal by the end of 2010.