Press Release - 27 March 1996
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AMcD/PIO/051-E
The Hague, 27 March 1996

EVIDENCE HEARING CALLED IN THE RAJIC CASE ('STUPNI DO')

Trial Chamber II, presided over by Judge MCDONALD, will hold a public hearing under Rule 61 in the case of Ivica RAJIC starting Tuesday 2 April 1996 at 10 a.m.

During this hearing, the evidence which led to RAJIC's indictment will be displayed and reviewed, and witnesses are likely to be called.

The Indictment

RAJIC, also known as Viktor ANDRIC, was indicted on 23 August 1995 on charges of GRAVE BREACHES and VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR. These international crimes were allegedly carried while he was commander of the Second Operational Group of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna (‘HZ-HB'). RAJIC's unit was HVO's Operational Group for the regions of Kiseljak, Kresevo and Vares in Central Bosnia. At the time of the alleged crimes, the HVO was engaged in an armed conflict with the armed forces of the government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The indictment charges that units of the HVO under RAJIC's command attacked the mostly-Muslim village of Stupni Do, located about 10km from Vares, on the 23rd of October 1993. At least 16 civilians were killed, the village was razed and the villagers were forced to flee their homes.

RAJIC's indictment was confirmed on 29 August 1995 by Judge SIDHWA. That same day, Judge SIDHWA signed warrants of arrests for the accused. An additional arrest warrant was signed by Judge VOHRAH on 8 December 1995.

The Charges

RAJIC is indicted on SIX COUNTS, three in the alternative. He is charged with being INDIVIDUALLY RESPONSIBLE for GRAVE BREACHES on two counts. Count I relates to wilful killing under Article 2(a) of the Statute and Article 7 (1) (individual criminal responsibility) of the Statute. Count II relates to Destruction of Property as recognised by Article 2 (d) of the Statute and Article 7 (1) of the Statute. He is also charged on a third count, that of being individually responsible for VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR under Articles 3 of the Statute (deliberate attack on the civilian population and wanton destruction of the village) and Article 7(1) of the Statute.

In the alternative, RAJIC is charged with COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY, in respect of a GRAVE BREACH of the Geneva Conventions as recognised by Articles 2(a) (wilful killing) and 7(3) of the Statute; a GRAVE BREACH of the Geneva Conventions as recognised by Articles 2(d) (destruction of property) of the Statute; and VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR, as recognised by Article 3 (for the deliberate attack on the civilian population and wanton destruction of the village) and contrary to Article 7(3) of the Statute.

The Accused

According to the indictment, RAJIC was born on 5 May 1958 in Johovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a graduate of a military academy in the former Yugoslavia. Before joining the HVO unit, he was a captain (first class) in the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA).

RAJIC was in the custody of the authorities of Herceg-Bosna (‘HZ-HB'), when the indictment was issued. He was released in December 1995, and has recently been reported to be living in Croatia.

Proceedings

In issuing the order for review of the indictment on 6 March 1996, during a private meeting in Chambers, Judge SIDWHA noted that a reasonable time has elapsed since the indictment was served, in accordance with section (A) of Rule 61. During the interim period, the Prosecutor took the measures stipulated under sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) of Rule 61 (A) to inform the accused of the existence of the indictment.

On 6 March 1996, the Prosecutor reported to Judge SIDHWA the steps he has taken. They include the transmission of the warrants of arrest issued by Judge SIDWHA on 29 August 1995 to the authorities of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the same day, in satisfaction of Rule 61 (A) (i). The warrant issued by Judge VOHRAH on 8 December 1995 was issued that same day to the Republic of Croatia. To date, these warrants have not been executed by the said governments.

Furthermore, the Prosecutor demonstrated that on 23 January 1996 the Registrar transmitted a form of advertisement for publication in newspapers to the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Belgium and to the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Belgium, with the intention of informing the accused of the existence of the indictment, in accordance with Rule 60.

The Bosnian Minister for Justice informed the Registrar of the ICTY on 8 February 1996 that the indictment against RAJIC was advertised in the Bosnian media, including on the Independent Television 99, Independent Radio 99, Independent Television Hayat and the newspapers Oslobodenje and Dnevni Avaz. RAJIC signaled that he knew of the existence of the indictment on 31 January 1996, when a letter was sent to the Registrar by Zvonimir HODAK, a Zagreb-based lawyer, informing her that he had been instructed by RAJIC to act on his behalf. At the same time, a power of attorney to act for RAJIC (purportedly signed by RAJIC in Kiseljak on 19 January 1996) was filed with the Registrar, in which RAJIC appointed HODAK to act as his lawyer before the Tribunal. The letter and power of attorney were personally submitted by HODAK to the Registrar on 9 February 1996.

Bearing the foregoing in mind, Judge SIDHWA found that the Prosecutor had satisfied the sole requirement of Rule 60, that is, the transmission by the Registrar of the advertisement for publication. Additionally, he had taken all reasonable steps to execute the warrants and to serve the indictment on the accused personally.

Purpose of Rule 61 Hearing

Following the public hearing, Trial Chamber II will be able to reconfirm an indictment against the accused, issue international arrest warrants and, if necessary, inform the Security Council.

The Rule 61 hearing is a public reminder that the accused is wanted for serious violations of international law. Additionally, it offers the victims of atrocities in the former Yugoslavia an opportunity to create and historical record against the accused.

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