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ICTY rules Serb commander in Dubrovnik siege unfit to stand trial

[JURIST] Vladimir Kovacevic [ICTY case backgrounder], a Serbian commander charged with war crimes [second amended indictment] for his part in the 1991 attack [BBC report] on the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, has been declared unfit to stand trial because of mental illness by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website, JURIST news archive]. After an initial appearance at which he was unable to enter a plea, a series of mental health evaluations were ordered that resulted in his June 2004 provisional release [decision, PDF] to Serbia to receive psychiatric treatment. In December 2005, the ICTY held a hearing to review Kovacevic's condition and on Wednesday published their decision [PDF text, press release] declaring Kovacevic unfit to enter a plea and stand trial. The case has been dismissed without prejudice and Kovacevic may face charges if his condition improves.

Kovacevic, nicknamed "Rambo" by his men, was arrested in October 2003 and charged with six counts of violating the rules of war including murder, attacks on civilians, and devastation not justified by military necessity. The exact nature of his illness is unclear because portions of the decision related to his diagnosis were redacted to protect his privacy. Former Yugoslav general Pavle Strugar was sentenced to eight years in prison [JURIST report] last year for his role in the Dubrovnik attack. Reuters has more.

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