U.N. war crimes trial of former Serb chiefs postponed again
The trial of the two former Serb security chiefs charged for notorious acts in the Balkan wars has been delayed for the fourth time.
15 April 2008
THE HAGUE - A U.N. court on Monday delayed for the fourth time the trial of two former Serb security chiefs charged with training, arming and directing notorious paramilitary units who fought in Croatia and Bosnia.
One of the defendants, Jovica Stanisic, is suffering severe depression and kidney stones, and doctors say he is too ill to attend his trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Stanisic and Franko Simatovic face five counts of murder, persecution, forced deportations and inhuman acts during the 1991-95 Balkan wars. They have both pleaded not guilty and face life sentences if convicted by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
According to the indictment, they set up paramilitary units such as Arkan's Tigers and the Scorpions who rampaged through villages in Croatia and Bosnia, driving out or murdering non-Serbs.
Tribunal judges last week ordered a video link to be set up so Stanisic could follow the trial from the court's detention unit.
However, the link was not ready on Monday when prosecutors were due to present their opening statement, and court officials told judges it is unlikely to be ready until 28 April.
Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson said the trial could not start without Stanisic being able to participate either by being in court or following proceedings on a two-way video link.
Robinson sounded frustrated by the fourth delay at the court, which is under pressure from the U.N. Security Council to complete all its cases by 2010.
"This is not the first time we have been met with a disruption of the proceedings on account of the illness of the accused," Robinson said.
No new date has been set for the trial to begin. It appears unlikely to start on 28 April since that date is Easter Monday for members of the Serb Orthodox church.
[AP / Expatica]