Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 43

1 Wednesday, 5 March 2003

2 [Status Conference]

3 [Open session]

4 --- Upon commencing at 11.00 a.m.

5 [The accused entered court]

6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, good morning. Madam Registrar, could you call

7 the case, please.

8 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-95-13/1-PT, the Prosecutor versus

9 Mile Mrksic.

10 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Mr. Mrksic, can you follow the

11 proceedings in a language that you can understand?

12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I can.

13 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. I thank you. Please be seated.

14 Appearances for the Prosecution.

15 MR. WUBBEN: Good morning, Your Honour. For Prosecution side, my

16 name is Jan Wubben, Senior Trial Attorney. At my side, Mr. Mark McKeon,

17 attorney, and Ms. Diane Boles, case manager.

18 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you and good morning. Appearances for the

19 Defence.

20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honour. The

21 Defence will be represented today by attorney Miroslav Vasic, Defence

22 counsel for the accused Mile Mrksic.

23 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning to you, too.

24 So welcome to this Status Conference which is being convened

25 according to Rule, or pursuant to Rule 65 bis, which requires us to hold a

Page 44

1 Status Conference more or less every four months, within 120 days from the

2 previous one. The previous one was held on the 11th of November, as you

3 may recall, so we are within the time limit.

4 The purpose of such status conferences, I may summarise very

5 shortly, is to give an opportunity for exchanges to be made between the

6 parties with a view to ensuring an expeditious preparation for the trial,

7 and in addition, to give an opportunity to the accused himself present

8 here in the courtroom to raise any issue that he might think appropriate

9 in relation to his condition of detention as well as his health condition,

10 both physical and mental.

11 In preparation for this Status Conference, I had given

12 instructions to the senior legal officer, Mr. Von Hebel, to hold a 65 ter

13 (D) conference, inviting you both to attend, and I am informed that this

14 was held a few days ago, on the 3rd of March, and that in the course of

15 this 65 ter meeting, you registered agreement on various issues that were

16 raised and that some of them, I am informed, need not be discussed at any

17 depth in this Status Conference. However, I will be referring to them

18 just to confirm that there is nothing, no afterthoughts on the part of

19 either of you and that you still stand by this position.

20 I will deal with the various items on this agenda seriatim as they

21 appear on the agenda for the status conference itself, and the first of

22 these issues, of course, is outstanding motions that there are.

23 The most important outstanding motion is the one containing

24 pleadings on the part of the Defence on the form of the indictment. This

25 has engaged -- I am told that this need not actually be discussed at any

Page 45

1 length or at any depth in the course of this Status Conference. This

2 Defence pleading is of such importance that it has naturally engaged my

3 legal staff considerably and with the result that, in order to be able to

4 hand down an appropriate and comprehensive, full decision, we require a

5 little bit more time. It is anticipated, however, and I know that you

6 have been informed accordingly during the 65 ter meeting, that while I

7 assure you that the matter is receiving our utmost attention, that we

8 anticipate that we should be in a position to hand down a decision towards

9 the end of this current month.

10 Then there is another outstanding issue which is of much lesser

11 importance, and that is the Defence motion for review of the Registrar's

12 decision of the 25th of September, 2002, denying payment of expenses

13 related to pre-trial investigative work. We have gone into this matter as

14 far as it required our immediate attention at the time it was presented.

15 If we are satisfied at any time between now and the commencement of the

16 trial that the Registrar's decision, if implemented - because it has not

17 been implemented - if implemented will seriously hamper your efforts in

18 the preparation of the trial, then obviously we will intervene within the

19 Rules and also in the light of the recent decision handed down by the

20 Appeals Chamber in another case, which deals with the Registrar's

21 discretion and mode of exercising its discretion in such and similar

22 matters.

23 I would suggest that you go to this judgement unless you have

24 already perused it, because it may be important. In any case, it is my

25 suggestion to you that we can sleep over this matter for the time being

Page 46

1 and that it will receive attention and priority as it deserves if and when

2 it deserves such priority.

3 Okay? Can you live with that, Mr. Vasic?

4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Thank you.

5 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. And the next item on the agenda is

6 disclosure matters or issues.

7 More or less I am informed that this was thrashed out to

8 everyone's satisfaction during this 65 ter meeting, but I will just go

9 through the various points one by one to make sure that the information

10 that I have is not only correct -- I mean, I never doubt the correctness

11 of the information that I received, but from experience, I know that

12 sometimes after the meeting has been concluded one has afterthoughts,

13 remembers, or figures out other things as well and there may be fresh

14 matters that you would like to raise.

15 Let's take them one by one. As far as 66(A)(i) material is

16 concerned, I understand there is agreement amongst you that this exercise

17 has been completed and that we need not discuss it any further. Is that

18 correct?

19 MR. WUBBEN: That's correct, Your Honour.

20 JUDGE AGIUS: Is that correct, Mr. Vasic?

21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, that's correct.

22 JUDGE AGIUS: With regard to Rule 66(A)(ii), again I am told that

23 you agreed during the last Status Conference and also during the last 65

24 ter meeting with my senior legal officer that you would commence this

25 disclosure process or exercise once preliminary motions have been disposed

Page 47

1 of.

2 Do I take it that you stand by this agreement?

3 MR. WUBBEN: Yes, Your Honour. We will do that as soon as

4 practical.

5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] As far as the Defence is concerned, we

6 believe that the agreement reached with my learned friend will start to

7 function as soon as we receive decisions regarding the preliminary

8 objections and motions.

9 MR. WUBBEN: That's correct, Your Honour.

10 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. And then there is the matter of

11 reciprocal disclosure, and I'm not surprised to find in the report that

12 Mr. Vasic pointed out that, in his opinion, it's still too early to say

13 whether the Defence will trigger reciprocal disclosure at this point. So

14 I take it that we will visit this matter at some subsequent point in time

15 when one would expect a different kind or a more definitive mode of

16 approach on the part of the Defence.

17 Would you agree with that?

18 MR. WUBBEN: I agree, Your Honour.

19 JUDGE AGIUS: And the last matter relating to disclosure and that

20 envisaged under Rule 68 relating to exculpatory material. I am informed

21 by my senior legal officer that the Prosecution indicated that it had

22 devised a plan which it was proposing to the Defence -- to the Defence,

23 showing how it intended or it planned to discharge its obligation to

24 disclose exculpatory material.

25 I am told that when this came up during the 65 ter meeting, you

Page 48

1 had practically just been provided with a copy or in any case that you had

2 not had time or the opportunity to go through the relative document.

3 May I ask your view, if you have reviewed it now and whether you

4 have any comments to make, Mr. Vasic.

5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I have asked

6 for some time to study the document, and I've done so, and I met with my

7 learned friend the next day, the representative of the Prosecution, and I

8 had no objections to raise regarding the method envisaged by the

9 Prosecution to submit to the Defence documents pursuant to Rule 68.

10 From the memorandum signed by me, it can be seen that the

11 beginning of the disclosure under Rule 68 would begin at the end of March,

12 which is acceptable. And we have agreed regarding the method of search

13 and possible updating of the key criteria for searching through all the

14 files in the possession of the Prosecution.

15 The Defence has also asked the Prosecution to be kind enough, as

16 that is their duty under this Rule, in addition to these criteria, to take

17 certain steps to find any exculpatory material for the accused. So the

18 Defence counsel has signed this document, and we agree with the proposed

19 method of disclosure pursuant to Rule 68.

20 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Vasic.

21 Just for the record, it is being pointed out by me that I have now

22 been handed a document which substantially is the Rule 68 disclosure plan

23 to which reference has been just made and that the relative document is

24 signed by Mr. Vasic on behalf of the accused Mr. Mrksic, indicating his

25 agreement to the plan itself.

Page 49

1 The Pre-Trial Judge orders that this document will be entered into

2 the records of the case and will form an integral part thereof. Thank

3 you.

4 Before I close the matter, the item on the agenda dealing with

5 disclosure, is there anything else either of you would like to raise in

6 this regard?

7 MR. WUBBEN: Nothing. Thank you.

8 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Vasic?

9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Nothing, Your Honour.

10 JUDGE AGIUS: We come to the next item, which is the date of

11 trial. I know that this was touched upon, dealt with in the course of the

12 65 ter meeting. The only thing that I would like to say is that I -- it

13 is my opinion that the general assessment that was made and that you were

14 informed about in the course of 65 ter meeting is also what I believe will

15 be the case. It's not likely at all that this case could start this year

16 or by early next year. However, it is one of the cases that is receiving

17 attention by the Tribunal, and we will do our utmost to bring it to trial

18 at the earliest possible opportunity.

19 In the meantime, it may not be futile on my part to remind you

20 that there is always the possibility that, pending the commencement of the

21 trial and the determination of preliminary issues, you might find it

22 useful or beneficial, particularly on your part, Mr. Vasic, and on the

23 part of your client, to discuss or negotiate with the Prosecution any

24 possible arrangements or plea bargaining that you may or may not wish to

25 enter into. It's entirely up to you. The Trial Chamber is just

Page 50

1 mentioning this in case your client thinks that there is absolutely no way

2 out but to wait until the trial comes, the trial date arrives and that a

3 full trial has to take place on the basis of what he has been charged with

4 and nothing else.

5 Perhaps you would like at some point in time to discuss this with

6 your client, and I'm pretty sure that the Prosecution would be open to

7 discuss any suggestions that you might have in this context.

8 You need not comment on what I said, because as I said, it's

9 entirely up to you.

10 Having said this, I come to one of the items that I consider very

11 important in every Status Conference, and I'm going to address you

12 directly, Mr. Mrksic. I want to know if you have any reason to complain

13 about the condition of your detention here in The Hague at the detention

14 centre.

15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have no complaints to

16 make. The personnel in the Detention Unit are very correct in their

17 dealings with us, as is the administration, and I think they can set an

18 example as far as that is concerned.

19 As far as my health is concerned, you know that I had two heart

20 surgeries, and life in the Detention Unit, the healthy way of life, daily

21 exercise, have in fact contributed to an improvement of my heart

22 condition. It's been 15 months since the surgery, and I would like to

23 have an examination with specialists, if possible, so as to avoid any

24 surprises.

25 In the meantime, I had some problems with my prostate gland. The

Page 51

1 elderly will understand what those problems entail. I have been given

2 medicines to take for a month and a half. Afterwards, there will be some

3 screening of my bladder. I don't really know what is involved. So that

4 is the only health problem that I have and no others at all.

5 I would just like to point out that we are being very correctly

6 treated, both here at the Tribunal and in the Detention Unit. I hope that

7 the cooperation between the Defence and the Prosecution will be fruitful,

8 that certain truths will be discovered to our common satisfaction. Thank

9 you.

10 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Mrksic. Having heard what you had

11 to say in regard to your state of health and concerns that you have

12 thereon, the Pre-Trial Chamber orders that the relevant parts of the

13 transcript, that is the entire statement of Mr. Mrksic, be communicated to

14 the commandant of the Detention Unit, Mr. McFadden, for his information,

15 attention -- for his attention and any action that he may deem appropriate

16 after consultation with the necessary medical personnel that he deems fit

17 to consult.

18 I am communicating to Mr. McFadden your statement, which is in

19 itself an invitation to him to -- first I'm making him aware that you have

20 got these concerns about your health; and secondly, I'm telling him make

21 an assessment together with the medical experts that you have available

22 and see what this gentleman needs by way of medical treatment. And I can

23 assure you that you will receive all the necessary medical treatment that

24 you require.

25 However, I do want to make it clear that if you are not happy with

Page 52

1 the way your medical -- your health is being attended to, please feel free

2 to let me know. Please feel free to communicate any complaints or any

3 concerns that you may have to your lawyer, and your lawyer knows exactly

4 how to reach me in order to communicate those complaints to me.

5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I have

6 absolutely no complaints to make regarding medical personnel. It's simply

7 a question of age, and I am sure that the problems will be resolved with

8 the help of medical experts. And I hope after these medicines and tests,

9 the worst will not happen, but one reaches an age when one can only expect

10 problems of this time.

11 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't know what interpretation you received, but

12 at no time did I read what you said as meaning that you were complaining

13 against any of the medical personnel. What I understood is that you had

14 concerns about the needs by way of medical attention that you may think

15 you require. You may require them, you may not require them; these

16 matters are usually decided by doctors themselves.

17 But anyway, the entire transcript of this phase, this part of the

18 proceedings, will be communicated to Mr. McFadden, who, I can assure you,

19 I can guarantee to you, will give this matter his utmost attention. He is

20 the most responsible person that you can imagine, and he will give this

21 matter his utmost attention.

22 So having said that, may I ask either of you if you have got any

23 other matter that you would like to raise before we adjourn?

24 MR. WUBBEN: No thank you, Your Honour.

25 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Wubben.

Page 53

1 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] The Defence also has no questions to

2 raise really, Your Honour, thank you.

3 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Vasic. So the status conference

4 stands adjourned and I will convene the next one towards the end of June,

5 beginning of July, unless, of course, there is an urgent reason to convene

6 another one in between. Thank you.

7 --- Whereupon the Status Conference adjourned

8 at 11.27 a.m.