1 Friday, 19 July 2002
2 [Status Conference]
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 4.02 p.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated.
6 May we hear the case number, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon. This is Case Number IT-02-59-PT,
8 the Prosecutor versus Darko Mrdja.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please. For
10 the OTP?
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Nicholas Koumjian and
12 Katharina Margetts, assisted by Gina Butler for the Office of the
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And for the Defence?
15 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: Good afternoon, my name is Vojislav
16 Dimitrijevic, attorney from Bosnia-Herzegovina. If you allow me, I
17 proceed in my language.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: In your language. Of course.
19 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
21 Today, the Status Conference was conferred in order to find out
22 what is the actual state of the case. What about disclosure, the usual
23 issues. But then later on, we have to come to the problem of on how to
24 proceed in this case, the envisaged time limits, and so on.
25 So therefore, I would ask the representative of the Office of
1 Prosecutor, the accused arrived, and the initial appearance took place the
2 17th of June, 2002. Have there been any problems with the material to be
3 disclosed to the other party?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, on the 17th of July, the supporting
5 materials translated into the language of the accused, and also in
6 English, were delivered through the Office of the OLAD to the registry to
7 the accused. The additional disclosure feature would be additional
8 witness statements, Rule 68 material, which searches have begun. And just
9 a note, also a guide to the supporting material, we disclosed -- the
10 supporting material was redacted. In the supporting material, the judge
11 got redacted statements. We will provide the Defence counsel with
12 unredacted material, that is, including the name of the witness. We're
13 simply checking now with the witnesses to see if there's any particular
14 witness protection issues before we disclose those names.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. May I take the opportunity at this
16 point in time to ask the accused in person whether he can follow the
17 procedure in a language he understands.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honours, everything is all
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
21 May I ask the Defence counsel, I got the document from the deputy
22 registrar saying that you are assigned as of 5 July for a period of time
23 of 120 days. And this was due to the fact that the registry has not yet
24 received the declaration of means of the accused. Has this problem been
25 settled in the past?
1 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it is true that I
2 received that decision appointing me legal counsel to Mr. Mrdja. However,
3 this problem is still outstanding. We are yet to submit the declaration
4 of means for Mr. Mrdja so that the matter can be resolved under the rules
5 of the Tribunal.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And there are, as I understand from
7 your answer, no problems between you and your client? There is a good
8 relationship? The question is also for Mr. Mrdja in person. But from
9 your point of view?
10 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, in the past two
11 days I have succeeded in establishing contact with Mr. Mrdja, and I think
12 our relationship is in order.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Mr. Mrdja, you share this view?
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Absolutely. Everything is fine,
15 Your Honour.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then we can be sure that the proceedings can
17 continue under the Rules.
18 May I ask the OTP, being not in the possession of supporting
19 material in this case, what will be the envisaged period of time at trial
20 that this case will take? How many witnesses do you expect to call?
21 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, the Prosecution would anticipate that
22 the trial would proceed -- the accused is charged with crimes against
23 humanity, so one of the elements would be the widespread and systematic
24 attacks. We anticipate that we would not be calling live witnesses to
25 establish all of the elements of the widespread and systematic attacks.
1 Assuming that that is done largely through either Rule 92 bis or through
2 another means, stipulation or other means, the witnesses as to the
3 incident in question, we anticipate no more than 15 witnesses would be
4 called. And we think we can put this case on in four weeks or less on the
5 Prosecution side.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think this is important to discuss today. The
7 accused and Defence counsel may know, or if they haven't already yet got
8 this information. It causes problems to hear new cases as to the
9 occupation of all the Trial Chambers and the courtroom facilities during
10 the next month, if not years. Therefore, we have to take all the
11 necessary measures to come as soon as possible to a solution.
12 I don't know whether you are aware that Trial Chamber II at
13 present is hearing the case against Dr. Stakic. This case covers, both in
14 time and subject matter, also that what is the content of the indictment
15 against Mr. Mrdja.
16 To be very frank and open, it was to be considered by the Trial
17 Chamber whether or not there could be a consecutive joinder with the
18 Stakic case, but we came to the conclusion that this would not be a
19 possibility granting all the rights to both Dr. Stakic and Mr. Mrdja.
20 They deserve separate hearings so, therefore, separate hearings should be
21 scheduled. On the other hand, we are obliged to hear the case as soon as
22 possible. The concept of a fair trial includes also an expeditious
24 I know that we have numerous time limits and time frames before
25 us, but we can only offer avoiding such a long period of waiting time for
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Mr. Mrdja. We can offer that the Trial Chamber would be prepared, during
2 the break in the case against Dr. Stakic - this means between the end of
3 the case of the Prosecutor and the start of the Defence case, if there is
4 any - to hear the case we have before us in between. And we hear, it
5 would be a period of time of four weeks and taking into account that here
6 we have before us no doubt a serious, extremely serious, crime -- alleged
7 crime against humanity. We have in Annex A the list of 228 persons
8 missing from this incident at 21 August 1992. But nevertheless, in
9 relation to other cases before us, it's limited, especially as regards the
11 So therefore, our offer could be when the parties can come to an
12 agreement to hear this case during this break I just mentioned before, and
13 this would be somewhere after the 20th of September, 2002. We are, in the
14 other case against Dr. Stakic, to a certain extent flexible, because in
15 that case the Defence requests time for preparation of their case, so that
16 coming to a conclusion. The case before us could be, on the basis of the
17 goodwill of both parties, be heard between end of September and beginning
18 of December.
19 I don't know whether the parties had already the possibility in
20 the past to contact and discuss how they want to proceed, especially what
21 the Defence will be, what will be the Defence case, but I advise the
22 parties, as time is of the essence, already today to contribute, to give
23 their observations whether they are willing and prepared to act in this
24 way. First of all, for the Defence, please.
25 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, thank you very
1 much for your comments. The Defence shares your opinion that in this
2 case, a sooner trial date rather than a later one is advisable. However,
3 we have only just been seized of the documents served on us by the
4 Prosecution. The Defence has not still been consolidated in the sense
5 that I have no co-counsel or assistants. However, we do support your
6 proposal to schedule a trial date as soon as possible. But it is
7 difficult for me to assess at this time how long the Defence will need to
8 gather all the necessary information and evidence. It seems to me,
9 though, with all due respect, and with certain reservations that the dates
10 that you have just suggested could be acceptable to the Defence. Thank
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And the position of the OTP, please.
13 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I think -- I would like to think that
14 it would be realistic for us to shoot for a starting date of October the
15 1st. As Your Honour knows, I'm engaged in Stakic, and it would be helpful
16 at least to have a short break to prepare between the two cases. In
17 addition, I should let the Defence know, there are a few other witness
18 statements that were taken subsequent to the supporting materials put
19 together, but they can be provided shortly. There also are many, many
20 statements dealing with crimes in which the accused is named, Mr. Mrdja is
21 named, which are not the subject of the indictment. I don't see a need to
22 provide those and translate those to the accused. But if the Defence
23 feels differently, we can talk about that.
24 So I would say at this point, I would hope that we can shoot for
25 the starting date of the 1st of October, and we would like very much to
1 expeditiously try the case.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I am satisfied by the contributions
3 of both parties because it's really important that we can avoid that
4 Mr. Mrdja is in the Detention Unit for a period which could amount to a
5 period of time which would be unproportional. And therefore, having heard
6 your contributions, I really invite both parties to come as soon as
7 possible already before the court recess together and try to find a
8 solution. As I said earlier, the Trial Chamber is prepared to hear this
9 case during the break.
10 There would be one -- the one side may call it an advantage - to
11 be quite honest with you - the other side may call it disadvantage, that
12 there is a Trial Chamber being aware of the problems in Prijedor in 1992,
13 especially in the period of time of the alleged crime we have before us.
14 Therefore, I invite the parties as soon as possible to discuss those
15 issues, whether or not it's possible to introduce as much as possible
16 material, be it 92 bis statements or making use in this case of the
17 possibility to take judicial notice or to come to agreed facts. Because
18 in this case, it may be, indeed, for both parties an advantage to have
19 Judges having heard already a lot about the environment this alleged crime
20 probably has been committed.
21 So therefore, I would like the parties to give the Tribunal in
22 writing a notice whether or not, at the end of the next week or in the
23 middle of the next week, they are prepared to proceed in this envisaged
24 way because it would be necessary to ask the Secretary-General of the
25 United Nations to assign the ad litem Judges also for this case, the case
1 we have before us. This would be a prerequisite for hearing the case as
2 fast as possible.
3 And in addition, I would like the Office of the Prosecutor to
4 provide also in this case the Trial Chamber with the necessary material,
5 supporting material, that we know a little bit more than only having
6 before us the indictment. We are acquainted in the way of working
7 together and having access to this material from the Stakic case, and it
8 should be done in the same way as it is done there.
9 May I ask, are there any other observations as regards the
10 proceedings in this case now from, first, from your point of view?
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: No, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Before giving the floor to the
13 Defence, I would ask the Defence counsel, you mentioned already the
14 problem of co-counsel and investigator, to contact immediately the OLAD
15 here in this premises to assist you in having co-counsel and an assistant
16 as soon as possible that also for you the necessary is done that you can
17 be prepared.
18 Any other issues from your point of view to be raised today?
19 MR. DIMITRIJEVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. Thank you.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
21 Then finally, before concluding this session, I have to ask the
22 accused in person, do you have any problems as regards your health or the
23 situation you're confronted with in the Detention Unit?
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Everything is perfectly fine, Your
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And you, of course, you are not obliged - to the
2 contrary - you have the right, as I said to you during the initial
3 appearance, you have the right to remain silent. But did you understand
4 the procedure that was just discussed amongst the counsel in this case,
5 that we tried to find as soon as possible a date for the hearing in your
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I understood what you talked
8 about, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And you agree with this expeditious procedure?
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I agree with everything that my
11 attorney has stated.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. This concludes today's hearing.
13 --- Whereupon the Status Conference adjourned
14 at 4.26 p.m.