THE HAGUE | 20.04.2012.

PROSECUTION AND STANISIC’S DEFENSE DON'T AGREE OVER MLADIC’S DIARIES

The prosecution has dismissed the claims made by Jovica Stanisic’s defense that it has changed its position on Mladic’s diaries, recalling that from the moment when the diaries were discovered and translated, the prosecution has always claimed they are authentic. The prosecution has allowed that the diaries might not be complete and that there could be other notebooks that have not been found yet

In early April 2012, the defense of the former Serbian State Security Service chief Jovica Stanisic submitted a motion to Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber, demanding that the prosecution state whether in its view Ratko Mladic’s war diaries had been altered or deliberately damaged and whether the entries had in fact been made at the meetings Mladic had attended or at a later time. The defense claimed that in course of the testimony of defense expert David Browne the prosecution changed its position regarding the completeness and reliability of Mladic’s notebooks. This prompted the defense to demand from the prosecution to declare once again its position on the issue. In its response made public today, the prosecution dismissed the defense’s claims, arguing that it has never changed its position and there is no need to state its position on ‘witnesses, evidence and theories of the defense’.

The prosecution notes that it has never claimed that everything the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army had ever written was contained in the diaries; it is a matter of common sense to assume that there is no way to learn if other notebooks exist, but have yet to be found. The prosecution can merely state that there are some notebooks that have been found and that the entries were written by Mladic. Secondly, the prosecution believes that Mladic’s diaries were ‘contemporaneous’, written at the time when the meetings mentioned in the entries were actually held. The prosecution fails to understand what has led the defense to conclude that this position has ever been changed.

One of the defense’s theories is that Mladic later changed the entries to ‘implicate Stanisic’ in the crimes. The prosecution contends that the changes were made ‘legitimately’: the author made the changes as he was writing, and did not have any particular intention to incriminate anyone. The defense also argued that the prosecution did not tender into evidence Mladic’s diaries in their entirety, which would imply that the prosecution felt other parts were ‘unreliable’, the defense contended. This is not the case, the prosecution replied. The parts admitted into evidence as prosecution exhibits were relevant for the trial of Stanisic and Simatovic; the prosecution would not object if the defense were to tender into evidence other parts of Mladic’s notebooks.

The prosecution wants the Trial Chamber to dismiss the defense’s motion. Alternatively, the prosecution wants the Trial Chamber to take notice of the responses the prosecution has filed so far, including the one filed today, as the prosecution’s formal position on Mladic’s diaries.

Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber received yet another submission today. Stanisic’s defense informed the judges that they were withdrawing their previous motion for a subpoena to be issued to the Republic of Serbia, compelling them to deliver some documents. Apparently, the defense and the Serbian authorities have been able to deal with the misunderstanding on their own.

Former chiefs of the Serbian secret service Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic are charged with crimes committed by the police and paramilitary units under their control against non-Serbs in Croatia and BH. The trial has been adjourned for a month, until the beginning of May 2012. Simatovic has been provisionally released by the Trial Chamber for the break. Stanisic has also filed a motion for provisional release, but the decision on the motion hasn’t been made public yet.