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Zupljanin Wants Trial With Karadzic
Accused says a joint trial is in “interests of justice”.
By Simon Jennings in The Hague (TU No 580, 5-Dec-08)
A former Bosnian Serb police chief awaiting trial in The Hague has requested his war crimes case be joined with that of ex-Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic.
Stojan Zupljanin, who was arrested on June 11 this year, argued in a motion submitted this week that a joint trial with Karadzic is what “his right to a fair trial and the interests of justice demand”.
The defendant is charged with ten counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war linked to a bid to expand the Serbian state during 1992.
The indictment states that Zupljanin, along with other members of a joint criminal enterprise, committed, or individually planned, instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation or execution of persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds of Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat populations in several Bosnian municipalities, including Banja Luka, Prijedor, and Teslic.
According to Zupljanin’s lawyers, tribunal rules allow for him to be tried alongside Karadzic, who was arrested on July 21, because the two men are accused of crimes that contributed to the same common plan.
Karadzic is charged for his involvement in four separate criminal objectives, but Zupljanin’s defence argues that the main goal of the alleged crimes of both men – to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs from the territory of the planned Serbian state – straddles both cases.
Zupljanin’s case is currently joined with Mico Stanisic who has so far made no request for a joint trial with Karadzic. Stanisic was part of the Serbian ministry of internal affairs and is charged with attempting to ethnically cleanse parts of Bosnia during the same period.
Zupljanin’s defence say the basis for its request to have a joint trial with Karadzic “mirrors” the prosecution’s earlier request to join his case with that of Stanisic.
It also raises questions about the similarity of the crimes alleged in the Karadzic and Zupljanin indictments.
According to Zupljanin's lawyers, the indictments overlap one another both in terms of crimes – persecution, extermination, murder, and forcible transfer – as well as location.
Zupljanin is charged for events in six of the same municipalities in Bosnia as Karadzic.
Zupljanin’s defence also submits that joining their client’s case with that of Karadzic would lend efficiency to proceedings by removing the need for the same witnesses to testify in both cases.
According to them, the same defence witnesses will have to come to The Hague to testify in both cases, and it would increase levels of cooperation if they only had to travel to The Hague once.
Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
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