Case No. IT-02-60-A

BEFORE THE PRE-APPEAL JUDGE

Before:
Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen, Pre-Appeal Judge

Registrar:
Mr. Hans Holthuis

Decision:
14 April 2005

THE PROSECUTOR

v.

Vidoje BLAGOJEVIC
Dragan JOKIC

_____________________________________________

DECISION ON VIDOJE BLAGOJEVICíS MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME IN WHICH TO FILE HIS NOTICE OF APPEAL AND ON DRAGAN JOKICíS MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME IN WHICH TO FILE HIS APPEAL BRIEF

_____________________________________________

 

Counsel for the Prosecutor:

Mr. Norman Farrell  

Counsel for the Accused:

Mr. Vladimir Domazet for Mr. Vidoje Blagojevic
Ms. Cynthia Sinatra for Mr. Dragan Jokic

 

I, MOHAMED SHAHABUDDEN, Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991 ("International Tribunal");

NOTING the "Order Assigning Judges to a Case Before an Appeals Chamber," filed on 14 February 2005, which, inter alia, designated me to serve as Pre-Appeal Judge in this case;

NOTING that Trial Chamber I rendered its Judgement in this case orally on 17 January 2005 and in writing on 24 January 2005 ("Judgement");

NOTING the "Decision on Vidoje Blagojevicís Expedited Motion for Extension of Time in Which to File His Notice of Appeal,Ē issued 16 February 2005 ("16 February Decision"), which extended the deadline for appellant Blagojevic to file his Notice of Appeal to 26 April 2005, finding that good cause existed for the extension because Blagojevic had recently been authorized by the Office of Legal Aid and Detention to select new counsel for his appeal;

BEING SEISED OF Blagojevicís ďMotion for Extension of Time Limited, In Which to File Notice of Appeal," filed 29 March 2005, which seeks a further extension of two months because the new lead counsel Blagojevic subsequently selected, Mr. Domazet, only received the materials related to the case from the former lead counsel as recently as 23 March 2005, and because those materials are extremely voluminous and in some cases require translation;

CONSIDERING that the changes in Blagojevicís defence team and the delay in transfer of the relevant materials to the new lead counsel constitute "good cause," within the meaning of Rule of Procedure 127, for the extension of time for a reasonable period;

CONSIDERING that this Chamber has already considered the amount of time that would be reasonable to enable Blagojevicís new counsel to familiarize himself with the case and file a Notice of Appeal, and, in its 16 February Decision, chose the date of 26 April accordingly;

CONSIDERING that after the 16 February Decision, the only relevant change in Blagojevicís circumstances was the delay in transfer of materials to his new counsel, that those materials were received 35 days later on 23 March, and that a further extension of 35 days therefore is reasonable under these circumstances;

NOTING that Blagojevicís co-defendant, Dragan Jokic, filed his own "Amended Notice of Appeal" on 25 February 2005, which included a request that the time to file the appeal brief be extended for a minimum of six months, and included various other imprecise requests regarding that extension;

NOTING that under Rule 111, Jokicís appeal brief would, absent an extension, be due 75 days after the filing of the notice of appeal, namely, 11 May 2005;

NOTING the "Order" of 17 March 2005, which observed that Jokicís initial request for an extension did not comport with the requirements of Practice Directive IT/155/Rev.2, in that it did not specify the precise ruling or relief sought, the specific provision of the Rules of Procedure invoked, and the grounds on which the ruling was sought, and ordered Jokic to file a new motion complying with these requirements;

BEING SEISED OF Jokicís ďMotion for Enlargement of Time to File Appeal Brief,Ē filed 23 March 2005, which requests a minimum extension of six months, further requests that the deadline be calculated not from the filing of the notice of appeal but from Jokicís receipt of a complete certified record of the trial, argues that Jokic has not received this record and that he is entitled to it under Rules 109 and 110, argues that the case is very complex and the record extensive and that Jokic will seek to present considerable new evidence under Rule 115, argues that Jokic also has not yet received a translation of the Judgement in B/C/S, and contends that these factors demand additional time;

NOTING that the Registry of the International Tribunal delivered the remaining volumes of the record to Jokicís counsel on 6 April 2005;

NOTING that the Conference and Language Services Section of the International Tribunal has given its assurance that the B/C/S translation of the Judgement will be ready by 31 May 2005;

NOTING the Prosecutionís "Consolidated Response to Defence Motions of Time," which agrees that both appellants are entitled to some "reasonable" extension of time and that neither extension sought would prejudice the Prosecution, argues that the length of time sought by both appellants is nevertheless more than is necessary, arguing that no extension should in any event be premised on Jokicís stated intent to introduce Rule 115 evidence, observing that the two appellants were tried together but that their appeal schedule has already been thrown out of synchronism by the extension already granted to Blagojevic, and requesting that, for the sake of judicial efficiency and convenience of all the parties, any extensions that are granted should be coordinated so as to re-synchronize the appeals schedules of both appellants;

CONSIDERING that Rule 111 plainly provides that the deadline period for the filing of the appeal brief should run from the date the notice of appeal is filed and not from the acquisition of the complete record, but that the delay in providing Jokic with a complete record of the appeal constitutes ďgood causeĒ for a reasonable extension of that deadline;

CONSIDERING that the complexity of a case and the extensiveness of its record, although they should be taken into account in determining the length of extension that justice requires, are factors in every case before this Tribunal, and do not in this case justify an extension of the rather extraordinary length of six months sought here by Jokic, but instead merit an extension of three months past the time of Jokicís receipt of the record materials;

CONSIDERING that this Chamber has already held that a B/C/S translation of the Judgement was not necessary for Counsel to Jokic complete the Notice of Appeal, as Counsel to Jokic speaks English and as it would be possible to seek to vary the grounds of appeal after the Notice of Appeal was filed if it subsequently proved necessary,1 and that the same holds true in the case of Blagojevic;

CONSIDERING that Counsel is likewise perfectly capable of commencing work on the appeal brief while the B/C/S translation of the Judgement is being prepared, but that before each appellantís appeal brief is finally submitted, it is also important that the appellant himself be able to read the judgement so that he can contribute meaningfully to his counselís preparation;

CONSIDERING that this Appeals Chamber has previously held that 50 daysí time, even in a complex case, during which each appellant has access to a translation of the Judgement in a language he understands should be sufficient to enable him to assist his counsel in the preparation of his appeal brief;2

CONSIDERING that this Appeals Chamber has previously held that an appellantís stated intent to seek to introduce new evidence under Rule 115 does not constitute good cause for an extension of the time to file an appeal brief;3

CONSIDERING that the interests of preserving this Tribunalís resources and convenience to the parties argue strongly in favour of re-synchronizing the appeals in this case, which in the interests of justice must be done by choosing the later of the sets of briefing deadlines that this Chamber might otherwise apply, namely, those that would apply after an extension of 35 days is granted in Blagojevicís case;

CONSIDERING the lack of prejudice to the Prosecution from granting extensions to both appellants accordingly; and

CONSIDERING that the goal of synchronization will be further served by holding a joint Status Conference, within 120 days of the filing of Jokicís Notice of Appeal but after the filing of Blagojevicís Notice of Appeal;

ORDER that

1) the time allowed for the filing of Appellant Blagojevicís Notice of Appeal be extended by 35 days, to 31 May 2005, observing that if he files on this date the deadline for his Appeal Brief will then be, according to Rule 111, 75 days later, or 14 August 2005;

2) the time allowed for the filing of Appellant Jokicís Appeal Brief be extended to 14 August 2005; and

3) a joint Status Conference for Blagojevic and Jokic take place on 23 June 2005.

 

Done in English and French, the English text being authoritative.

______________________
Mohamed Shahabuddeen
Pre-Appeal Judge

Dated 14 April 2005
At The Hague
The Netherlands

[Seal of the Tribunal]


1. Blagovic et al., Decision on Defence Motion for Extension of Time in Which to File the Defence Notice of Appeal, at 2-3 (15 February 2005).
2. Prosecutor v. Brdjanin, Decision on Motions for Extension of Time, IT-99-36-A, at 4, 6 (9 Dec. 2004) (citing other Appeals Chamber cases holding that 30 to 40 days is sufficient, but holding that a period of 50 days was justified by the complexity of the case).
3. Id. at 4.