THE HAGUE | 02.03.2015.

PROSECUTION WANTS HADZIC TRIAL TO CONTINUE

Last week, two medical experts concluded that "it is possible" Goran Hadzic "might not be able to attend proceedings". Now the prosecution has urged the Trial Chamber to set a date for the trial to continue with or without the accused in the courtroom. The defense case was underway when the trial was adjourned

The prosecution has urged the Trial Chamber to order the trial of former prime minister of the SAO Eastern Slavonia Goran Hadzic to continue so that the defense can present the rest of its case. The defense case began in July 2014 but was suspended in October 2014 when Hadzic was diagnosed with an incurable and inoperable brain tumor.

Despite the fact that the Tribunal’s Statute grants the accused the right to be tried in his presence, the prosecution argues that the right ‘is not absolute’. The right could be taken away if it would result in ‘significant’ voluntary or involuntary obstruction of the proceedings. Consequently, the prosecution has called for the trial to continue in the interest of justice even if Hadzic is unable to attend the trial.

In its motion, the prosecution recalls that Hadzic spent seven years on the run. During the trial, a large quantity of evidence was called about Hadzic’s key role in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at the forcible elimination of non-Serbs from the SAO Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem and later from the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The motion notes that the prosecution rested its case, that the Trial Chamber rendered its decision on the defense motion to acquit the accused at the half-time of the trial and that Hadzic completed his testimony in his own defense. Hadzic had already called several witnesses and his defense case was drawing to a close when the trial was adjourned, the prosecution stresses. According to the prosecution, if the trial were to continue to its completion, fairness of the proceedings would be ensured and justice would be served.

The prosecution has invoked the Appeals Chamber’s decision in the case against Slobodan Milosevic. Since Milosevic had health problems, a stand-by counsel was appointed to him, to take over his defense if Milosevic’s health deteriorated. The decisions of other international courts also militate in favor of the prosecution’s motion to continue the trial without Hadzic in the courtroom.

Two medical experts invited by the Trial Chamber to report on Hadzic’s health concluded that ‘Hadzic might not be able to attend proceedings’, the prosecution notes in its motion. As the accused has repeatedly refused to waive his right to attend his own trial, and there is little cause to hope his position will change, the prosecution believes that there is ‘legitimate

basis’ to believe that the trial will not be completed if it depends on the accused and his attendance.

In order to guarantee the rights of the accused, the prosecution has urged the Trial Chamber to continue the trial under the presumption that the accused would be in court. When his health does not allow him to attend, Hadzic should be able to follow the proceedings via video link from the UN Detention Unit. If that is not possible, the prosecution wants the trial to go on without Hadzic. Also, the prosecution has recommended that Hadzic be allowed to be in constant telephone contact with his defense, to be able to review video recording of the trial, to read the transcripts and to have access to all the documents from the trial.