A three-judge panel for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] accepted a request [decision, PDF] by prosecutors on Friday to reduce the number of crimes they intend to prove against former Serbian general and alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive] from 196 to 106. The panel declared that the prosecution's request for a reduction in the indictment was permissible under applicable law:
Under Rule 73 his (D) of the Rules, having heard the Prosecution, a Chamber may, in the interest of a fair and expeditious trial, invite the Prosecution to reduce the number of counts charged in the indictment and may fix a number of crime sites or incidents comprised in one or more of the charges in respect of which evidence may be presented by the Prosecution which, having regard to all the relevant circumstances, are reasonably representative of the crimes charged. The relevant circumstances include the crimes charged in the indictment, their classification and nature, the places where they are alleged to have been committed, their scale, and the victims of the crimes.The panel stated [press release] that the prosecution in two weeks will file both an amended indictment and an updated list of victims. Two weeks ago, ICTY prosecutors sought to lower the number of crimes in their indictment of Mladic [JURIST report] in order to speed up his trial. The request came one day after a panel of ICTY judges ordered [text, PDF] the appointment of a medical expert to conduct a medical examination and issue a report on Mladic's health. Mladic will still face trial on two counts of genocide along with nine other charges.
In October, the ICTY prosecutors refused to seek further appeal [JURIST report] of the tribunal's refusal to split Mladic's trial into separate actions: one for his conduct during the Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive], where approximately 8,000 people were killed, and one for all of his other charges during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive]. Mladic made his first appearance [JURIST report] at the ICTY in June, contesting the charges while simultaneously asking for more time to review them, which he was granted. At his second appearance [JURIST report] he refused to enter a plea. Before that, he had lost his final appeal in Serbia to avoid extradition, and was transported to The Hague [JURIST reports]. Serbian authorities captured Mladic [JURIST report] in May, ending a 16-year manhunt for the former general colonel and commander of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder, political persecution, forcible transfer and deportations, cruel treatment and the taking of peacekeepers as hostages.