THE HAGUE | 13.12.2005.


The request for additional 380 hours for the defense is dismissed. The judges abandon the idea to sever the proceedings on the Kosovo indictment from the rest of the case and opt for the continuation and swift completion of the trial on all three indictments

The Trial Chamber has dismissed Slobodan Milosevic's request for additional time for the presentation of the defense case. At the same time, the judges have abandoned their own idea to sever the proceedings on the Kosovo indictment in order to bring to an end that part of the trial.

The trial will thus continue on all three indictments, according to the valid schedule. Milosevic has been allotted 360 hours to present his evidence. The prosecution took as much to complete its case. As the accused has so far used up three quarters of the time, he now has a bit more than 20 days – or seven three-day weeks – to call his remaining witnesses and present any other evidence. Add to this 10 to 12 days for cross-examination of the defense witnesses by the prosecutor and the fact that the accused was granted time to rest until 23 January 2006 when the trial is to continue. This means that Milosevic will rest his case sometime in late April 2006. After that, the two parties will be given a short time for rebuttal and rejoinder evidence, followed by the closing arguments and the drafting and delivery of the judgment. The fundamental obligation of the Chamber, it is stated in the decision made public today, is "to bring this trial to a fair and expeditious conclusion".

In the statement of reasons to the decision dismissing Milosevic's application for additional 380 hours for the examination of 190 witnesses, the judges recall that they have warned the accused countless times to use his time rationally and invited him to make better use of his legal advisers and assigned counsel to assist him in preparing written testimony of witnesses that can be made part of the record without their live testimony. The Trial Chamber notes that "on its experience of the accused in this case, that he has deliberately used the time available to him so that at the end of that time he would have led little or virtually no evidence on the Croatia and Bosnia parts of the case, thus seeking to provide a foundation for a request for additional time".

In other words, the judges realized that Milosevic tried to present them with a fait accompli, believing that once he had used the allotted time – the Chamber would have no choice but to grant him more time to answer the Croatia and BH charges.