THE HAGUE | 26.01.2005.

PAVLE STRUGAR TO RECEIVE HIS JUDGEMENT ON 31 JANUARY

Former commander of the JNA Second Operational Group – in charge of the "Dubrovnik operation" – has been charged with the attacks on civilian targets in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Prosecution has asked for 13 to 15 years in prison, defense for acquittal. Judges seek additional clarification with regard to the application for the deferral of the Vladimir Kovacevic, Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac to the courts in SCG and Croatia. New judge appointed in the Krajisnik case.

The judgment in the case of General Pavle Strugar, charged with the shelling of Dubrovnik, will be delivered on Monday, 31 January, it has been made public today. The former commander of the JNA Second Operational Group - in charge of the "Dubrovnik operation" - has been charged with the attacks on civilian targets in the Old Town of Dubrovnik in December 1991. The trial lasted from December 2003 to July 2004. At the end of the trial, the prosecution recommended that the accused be sentenced to 13 to 15 years in prison. The defense sought that Strugar be acquitted on all counts.

He was initially indicted together with the former commander of the JNA 9th Naval Sector, Miodrag Jokic, and the former commander of the 3rd Battalion of the Trebinje Brigade, Vladimir Kovacevic. The indictments were severed after Jokic pleaded guilty (and was subsequently sentenced to 7 years in prison), while Kovacevic has been ruled temporarily unfit to stand trial due to psychological problems. He has been placed in a medical institution in Belgrade, where he is undergoing treatment.

Last October, the prosecution applied for a deferral of the Kovacevic case to the courts in Serbia and Montenegro, but the judges have deferred their decision on this issue because they consider it to be legally complex. They wonder what to do if Kovacevic becomes "more permanently" unfit to enter a plea and stand trial. Should in that case SCG decide on “any further action” or should the Tribunal withdraw the indictment? The judges also wonder what the status of defense counsel would be if the client is unable to give them instructions or receive their advice. The parties were asked this week to give their views on these issues.

Iin the case of Croat generals Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac – also awaiting the decision on possible deferral to domestic courts – the Chamber has sought additional clarifications and opinions from the prosecution and defense on how a trial before a court in Croatia should proceed. The accused have been charged with the crimes in the Medak pocket in 1993.

A new judge was appointed this week to the Chamber hearing the Momcilo Krajisnik case. French judge Claude Hanoteau will have the status of an ad litem judge. The trial has been adjourned after the Egyptian judge Amin El Mahdi withdrew from the Chamber. Krajisnik demanded that the entire proceedings be repeated, but the Chamber rejected his demand. The accused did not appeal the decision.