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11 January 2008
News

Klickovic: Plea Hearing Postponed

BIRN BiH
The repeated requests of Gojko Klickovic's Defence for postponement of the plea hearing have been approved by judges, with the Prosecution's consent.
After Gojko Klickovic said, at the hearing held on January 4, that he could not plead guilty or not guilty, as he "did not understand the indictment", his defence attorney has now requested that the plea hearing be postponed for 30 days.


The plea hearing has now been postponed until January 31 this year.


Klickovic is charged, as a former senior official of the Serbian Democratic Party and Serbian Bosanska Krupa Municipal Assembly as well as commander of the Crisis Committee, with having "planned, initiated, ordered and committed" the attack on the towns of Bosanska Krupa, Bosanska Otoka and Ostruznica, when a large number of Bosniak civilians were murdered, while their houses were pillaged and set on fire.


The indictment alleges that Klickovic is responsible for having failed to punish his subordinates who committed criminal offences. He is also charged with the capture of a large number of civilians and soldiers, who were held in inhumane conditions in numerous detention centres from April to November 1992.


"The Court released additional Defence attorney Hamdija Veladzic of his duty, because he examined, as investigative judge, the witnesses who are due to appear at this trial. We are now back to where we started. We really need three weeks in order to be able to enter a valid plea and to do this in a qualitative manner," said attorney Dusan Tomic.


He also said that he had filed a complaint against Veladzic's release from duty. Therefore, he will start looking for a new additional attorney only after a legally-binding decision concerning the additional attorney has been rendered.


The Prosecution did not object to the request for postponement of the plea hearing. As indicated by Philip Alcock, "it is suitable to us that the defence is organised in accordance with the indictee's wishes", in order to avoid similar problems in the future.


The legal deadline for holding a plea hearing is 15 days after the confirmation of the indictment. In this case, the indictment was confirmed on December 17, 2007. Although preliminary hearing judge Saban Maksumic said that "the law is explicit when it comes to deadlines", he still approved the postponement as requested by the indictee's Defence attorney.


"It is clear that we shall not lose anything if we postpone the hearing. And, it is better to overcome these obstacles at this stage than to refer them to the Trial Chamber," said Maksumic.
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