THE HAGUE — The Hague Tribunal has proposed splitting the case against Ratko Mladić into two parts to speed up the trial, the court said on Wednesday.
The prosecutors said that Mladić’s arrest came at the time when the mandate of the war crimes tribunal is about to expire. Because of that, worried by Mladić’s health and wanting to “maximize the prospect of justice for the victims,” prosecutors said they wanted the trial to begin as soon as possible.
Splitting the indictment and having two separate trials would best serve the interest of justice, Hague Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in a court filing dated Tuesday but made public on Wednesday.
If the Trial Chamber upholds splitting the indictment and holding two separate trials, the prosecution will deal with the Srebrenica case first, the prosecution said.
They said the number of charges against Mladić would remain the same, but splitting the case was a prudent and practical step that would not compromise Mladić’s rights.
The prosecution said it could present its evidence against Mladić in the Srebrenica trial within one year and be ready to start the second trial when the first is completed.
The former war-time military commander of Serbs in Bosnia is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war during the 1992-1995 armed conflict in BiH.
He was arrested in the village of Lazarevo near Zrenjanin, northern Serbia, on May 26, and was transferred to the UN detention facility in Scheveningen, near The Hague, on May 31.
When he first appeared in court in June, Mladić postponed entering his plea. On July 4, he was removed from the courtroom after persistently refusing to enter a plea and interrupting the judge several times.
The session resumed without Mladić’s presence and with the Trial Chamber entering formal pleas of not guilty on behalf of Mladić, as envisaged by the Hague rule book in the event of the indictee’s refusal to enter a plea.