Trial of former VJ chief postponed

THE HAGUE -- The trial of former Yugoslav Army (VJ) Commander-in-Chief Momčilo Perišić before the Hague Tribunal did not begin today as scheduled.

Momčilo Perišić (FoNet, archive)
Momčilo Perišić (FoNet, archive)

Perišić has been indicted for war crimes committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Tribunal did not issue an official explanation, though unofficially, it is believed that the line-up of the Trial Chamber has yet to be established.

It is thought that the Tribunal has not yet received official confirmation from the UN Security Council on the extension of the mandates of two judges, Michele Picard from France and Pedro David from Argentina, until the end of the Perišić trial.

The beginning of the trial has been adjourned, and a new trial date will be announced later.

The indictment charges Perišić with, among other things, the bombing of Zagreb, the Sarajevo siege, and war crimes against Muslims in Srebrenica, though not genocide.

The prosecution will try to prove that Perišić, even though he was in Belgrade the entire time, was a superior to former JNA officers, and that at the time of the events in question, he was also in charge of officers of the Republic of Srpska Army (VRS) and the Republic of Serb Krajina Army (VRSK), who were the direct perpetrators of the crimes listed in the indictment.

A great deal of evidence presented to the court during the Slobodan Milošević trial will be reintroduced. The prosecution will once again try to prove that Belgrade’s role in the events that took place during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia was more significant than is generally believed, and that the VJ was directly involved in the crimes perpetrated.

B92 understands that several expert witnesses have been analyzing relations between VJ HQ in Belgrade and the VRS and VRSK. One of them has focused in particular on an analysis of the minutes from Military Defense Council (VSO) meetings.

One curiosity of the trial is that the prosecution was counting on Perišić as a potential key witness in the Milošević case, who was expected to confirm the alleged link between the three armies. However, Perišić refused to do so, even though, certain sources claim, it could have spared him from being indicted.