1 Thursday, 22 June 2006
2 [Ex parte - Coric Defence]
3 [Closed session] [Confidentiality lifted by
4 later order of the Chamber] [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.32 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Would you call the
7 case, please, Mr. Registrar, in the ex parte hearing.
8 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. President.
9 This is case IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor against Prlic et al.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. I'm going to take
11 the floor and address myself to Mr. Coric and his Defence counsel.
12 As you know, pursuant to a problem that has arisen between
13 Mr. Coric and his counsel, the Chamber had to make a ruling and appoint
14 Mr. Jonjic for a period of two months, a temporary period, as Defence
15 counsel. That two-month period expires on Monday, the 26th of June. In
16 the meantime, Mr. Coric was invited to give us the names of your future
17 Defence counsel on the Registrar's list, and we learnt that you came up
18 with two names, and this procedure is still ongoing, because one of those
19 lawyers, one of the counsel, has not yet sent in his documents, and the
20 second Defence counsel will have to sit for an English-language test,
21 which means that the Registrar is not able to make a decision today. On
22 the other hand, the proceedings are continuing, and on Monday we're going
23 to continue the sitting.
24 We decided to convene this meeting so that you could state your
25 views, Mr. Coric, on this issue. Perhaps there are some new elements that
1 we're not aware of that have cropped up in the meantime, and I'm certain
2 that you have contacted Counsel Jonjic in the meantime and that he
3 probably made inquiries and dealt with your Defence case. Your lawyer
4 also met us when we were in Bosnia-Herzegovina and told us about what
5 befell you, so he acquitted himself affably as your counsel in your own
7 Those are the impressions that the three of us, us three Judges,
8 gained. But as I said, perhaps there's some new elements that we should
9 be made aware of that have cropped up in the meantime, and that is why
10 we're very happy to hear your position from you, because you know that I
11 always want to ensure that you have proper representation and fair
12 representation. That is our objective always, fairness. And the three
13 Judges have noted that up until now, your Defence counsel have acted in a
14 very proper manner.
15 Now, let us take the hypothesis of some lawyer being selected.
16 This will all take time, because he will have to be brought up-to-date
17 with the case and more than 10.000 documents and exhibits that there are
18 in this case. So this -- there is the risk of prejudice, but otherwise
19 everything was functioning perfectly well.
20 So what I'd like to hear, Mr. Coric, is your line of thinking so
21 that we as the Judges can be -- can make our ruling. I give you the
23 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. What
24 I think is important for me to say today with respect to the questions you
25 asked me is the following: Over the past two months, I established
1 contact once again with Mr. Jonjic to a certain extent, but only in the
2 space of those two months, and I never brought into question my decision
3 and your ruling and decision that we should part, go our different ways
4 after those two months have expired. After your decision, I sent in the
5 Tribunal and the Trial Chamber the names of seven Zagreb lawyers. Two
6 have made contact, and we need to have one of those two men selected for
7 my Defence counsel.
8 As far as I've been informed, that person sat for an
9 English-language examination today and he has passed through all the other
10 tests, and I was expecting to hear the results, what had happened, but I
11 see that that is not the case today.
12 I'm going to say something that I hadn't told anyone yet except
13 for Mr. Jonjic. I am fully conscious that Mr. Jonjic, in the professional
14 sense, worked well on the basis of the knowledge I had and what I was able
15 to see both here in the courtroom and during the time we spent together
16 working together, but I told Mr. Jonjic, unfortunately, I have some health
17 problems that I'd like to address today. I take four tablets a day under
18 the supervision of the physician of the Tribunal, three in the morning and
19 a fourth pill in the afternoon. My contact with Mr. -- my contacts with
20 Mr. Jonjic affect my blood pressure. It's very difficult for me to have
21 to say that, but I must say it nonetheless. I don't wish him any ill-will
22 but that is something that I'm not able to control, my reactions to him.
23 Over the past few days, because of my father's death a while ago
24 and my mother's death earlier on, I was under constant pressure and
25 therefore under medical supervision, and my blood pressure has risen a
1 great deal, and I sent in all the documentation, my medical records, to
2 the physicians of the Tribunal. So it has reached a level where I ought
3 to be hospitalised. The doctor told me two days after my father's death
4 that the best thing would be for me to go to hospital, but I didn't want
5 to go to hospital. I wanted to go home and attend the funeral. My health
6 is poor today and there are days when I'm wondering whether to go to court
7 or not.
8 Now, to link that up to Mr. Jonjic, is perhaps a little -- or a
9 little courageous -- or blunt and bold on my part.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What is your blood pressure?
11 How high? Did the doctor tell you how high is your blood pressure.
12 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] My blood pressure is 180 over
13 120. So my diastolic is never under 120 despite the fact that I take four
14 pills a day to lower my blood pressure. I can't do anything about that.
15 I don't know if I am normal any more. I am under medical supervision, but
16 what can I do? It seems to be my nature, and whenever I come into contact
17 with Mr. Jonjic, my blood pressure seems to rise.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What does the doctor tell you?
19 When you take your pills, does your blood pressure go down? What does the
20 doctor tell you? Because I was not aware of the present state of
21 affairs. So the doctor that examines you, is he optimistic with respect
22 to your future health?
23 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] The last contact I had with my
24 doctor was when he wanted to send me to hospital for a controlled
25 examination, which was three days before the death of my father. I didn't
1 go intentionally because I thought that if the situation became more
2 complicated I wouldn't be allowed to go to my father's funeral. So he had
3 -- he wanted to refer me to hospital because he said that the facilities
4 in the Detention Unit weren't sufficient and that I would need to go to
5 hospital. Now, I like to follow the old proverb that one knows what one
6 -- what ails one best, so I'm trying to do the best I can to keep me up
7 and running. But I told Mr. Jonjic of the situation some ten days ago
8 when we met tete-a-tete. Were it not for this ex parte session, I
9 wouldn't have told you that at all. So what happened between us, between
10 myself and Mr. Jonjic, seems to make my health situation deteriorate, and
11 I think that it -- my health is the most important for me. So everything
12 else takes second place. What I want to do is to be able to come into
13 court here and to see that my health is not impaired.
14 The second point that I wanted to raise is this: When on the 21st
15 I had direct contact with the Registry for the first time -- I won't take
16 up too much of your time, but I would like to say this -- quite obviously
17 those people made my position much more difficult and I have already
18 stressed that. And it's only at the end of this two-month period of time
19 that my next Defence counsel -- they waited for this two-month time limit
20 to expire and still have not allowed me to select counsel. I'm going to
21 keep quiet about that but quite obviously there's something afoot there,
22 and if I think there's something devious afoot, I'll have to speak out.
23 So I'd like to ask you to protect me from some people whom I think have
24 quite different intentions when it comes to me. I'm asking you for
1 People who are ready to join my team in Zagreb are following the
2 proceedings of this trial on the internet. They have the documents that
3 they have and receive documentation and material from various sides. They
4 are ready to step on board, and I have helped them, I have done what I
5 could for my part, so I'm -- I don't think that justice will be impaired
6 in any way if after Monday I see new people here who will make up for lost
7 time. And I'd like to have this main person came on board on the team,
8 and then we can proceed according to the rules and regulations of this
10 So please try and understand me and do what you can, and of course
11 my action will depend on your decisions and rulings.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right. Thank you.
13 Mr. Coric, I'm sure my colleagues will be asking you questions as well.
14 Yes, you can sit down. No need to tire yourself standing up, as far as
15 I'm concerned, but I do have a few questions to ask you. Please be
17 You've just told us that when you have a meeting with Mr. Jonjic
18 your blood pressure rises. So you seem to be linking your state of health
19 with the physical contact you have with your Defence counsel. That's what
20 you have explained to me. And the conclusion on your part is that if you
21 don't see Mr. Jonjic any more and have no further discussions with him,
22 you think that your health will improve. Is that the summary of what you
23 said? That is indeed what you told me, is it not? Very well.
24 Now, my other concerns are your state of health, because you told
25 us that the doctor wanted to refer you to hospital for treatment, so you
1 will receive health care. It's not as -- you're not in a situation in the
2 kind of situation that Slobodan Milosevic was in, who seemed to have the
3 same sorts of problems as you.
4 So if your doctor, the detention centre doctor, tells you that you
5 have to go to hospital for examination, go. Have those medical
6 examinations at the hospital. That seems to be necessary. So have the
7 examinations done. The fact that you're in a detention centre doesn't
8 mean that you shouldn't take care of your health. So that's the first
9 point that I wish to raise you.
10 But my concerns are these, and I'm sure my colleagues will
11 intervene and have their own questions, but my concerns are that you are
12 all -- are defended, that you have a Defence counsel in future. And as
13 you can see, you see the quite considerable work that the Defence teams
14 are having to get through with all the documents and every -- all the rest
15 of it. So can you imagine that when one of these two men comes here and
16 takes up the post of your Defence counsel, Mr. Jonjic can perhaps stay on
17 for a few months in this interim period to facilitate the transition so
18 that your new Defence counsel can be brought abreast of everything that is
19 going on in the trial and be given assurances that the Defence counsel
20 over a period of months can ensure that everything is done properly and
21 that there is no prejudice against you.
22 I don't know what my colleagues think, but I think I have a
23 solution, and it is this: Either the Registrar should appoint or select
24 one of these two people, the person that has just had his English
25 examination, and that the person could come on board straight away and
1 continue working with your present Defence counsel, Mr. Jonjic, for a
2 number of months, let's say six months, and then after six months, if
3 you're still in the same situation, then Mr. Jonjic will be obliged to
4 step down and leave, and then the person who has replaced him will become
5 lead counsel, and you'll have another lead counsel to defend you. So that
6 is one solution that we can think about.
7 What do you think about that solution?
8 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have thought
9 about all these different variations, and to be quite frank, when you
10 suggested that Mr. Jonjic stay for two months, had you said six months I
11 wouldn't have minded. I thought relations would be a bit better. But
12 after the experience that I have with everything, with all these matters
13 -- and I told Mr. Jonjic this. We had a nice discussion, a calm
14 discussion, and I said that I even felt better than when the two of us
15 talk together rather than when I go back to my cell and then think over
16 all the things we said and what we're doing and so on.
17 So I'm now trying, even to my own detriment, to have a new period
18 without Tomislav Jonjic, both in my mind, not to think about him, and not
19 to have him at the trial. And I think that the person to replace him
20 would be able to do so without any great detriment to me. So I would like
21 to prevail upon you if we could do that as soon as possible. I talked to
22 the Defence counsel. They are fully aware of the risks they would run.
23 They're a little fearful of coming on board on this trial, given the scope
24 of it, but we -- if you enable us to take that option and to have those
25 people join us here as soon as possible to take over my Defence, then I
1 think that would be the best solution. I will take on the responsibility
2 myself. I'm willing to run the risk of having the people come in as soon
3 as possible even if they're not ready and prepared enough, because this
4 interim has been going on for two long.
5 Let me just briefly repeat the main problem here: When you come
6 into conflict with a friend, and I'm sure we've all done that, it's much
7 worse than if you clash with somebody that you were -- you just had
8 professional relationships with. Jonjic and I have had very close
9 relations, both professional, political, family, friendly and so on, and
10 suddenly it all fell through in the worst possible way, and I think that I
11 was hit so hard by that that there's no medicament that can put it right.
12 So both for my own good and for Tomislav himself, may we get -- have a
13 solution to this problem and go forward with a new person, come what may.
14 So please, could you try and help me and do as quickly as
15 possible. Of course, if you have any more questions to ask, I'll be happy
16 to answer them.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] My colleagues would like to ask
18 you some questions.
19 JUDGE PRANDLER: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. [In
20 English] Not asking a question, but I would also express my condolences to
21 Mr. Coric for the loss, what his father's death meant for him.
22 I would also like to say that after having listened to the
23 President of our Trial Chamber and also having listened to Mr. Coric last
24 time when this issue was discussed and also today, I do -- I do see the
25 problems because sometimes even if the conflicts are not being brought to
1 the public, at the same time I can understand that there are very
2 personal, very private feelings which -- which are very difficult to
3 explain, and especially when you mentioned that you are ill and you have
4 your blood pressure very high, and it is indeed very high, then I have --
5 I would like to express my sympathy with you.
6 On the other hand, there are certain issues which are really
7 difficult for me also to understand. I also have followed with particular
8 interest as a Judge and as a private person what has happened here during
9 the hearings. I can also actually confirm what the President of the Trial
10 Chamber already mentioned, that indeed the matter in Mr. Jonjic's position
11 and his behaviour and professional knowledge also impressed me and I
12 believe that he really did his best to represent you. So therefore, under
13 these circumstances, I do not see too much other choice but to agree with
14 the proposal which was made by the President -- by the Presiding Judge and
15 to ask you to accept this as a provisional position and a provisional
16 measure until and unless your choice will be then given to you and you can
17 then work with your new Defence lawyer.
18 Thank you, Mr. President.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you, Mr. President. [Part of Closed
20 Session not made public by order of Trial Chamber] (redacted)
2 [Confidentiality lifted by later order of the Chamber]. So I was
3 quite impressed with your presentation today, and would also agree that we
4 proceed as outlined by our Chamber Trial Chamber President.
5 I would like to put into this a little additional viewpoint. You
6 have stated today that the persons who are prepared to take over the
7 Defence, and in the first place there's a lady who is about to pass her
8 English test, have so far followed the trial and feel fully prepared, so
9 that a transitory assistance by Mr. Jonjic, who I'd like to add as a
10 footnote not only did his best, which is a bit a doubtful compliment,
11 because someone who is not very good, if he does his best, the result is
12 still not very good. But I would like to testify that Mr. Jonjic has done
13 an excellent job by any standard. This is certainly an aside, and I think
14 you do not yourself deny this.
15 But whether your new counsel would be or will be prepared to do
16 this, we would also have to hear from counsel. Our endeavour is to find
17 the best solution for you and in marginal points at least, and this would
18 be such a point, it would be our duty to make absolutely sure that where
19 you feel safe, your new counsel also feels safe, and it's possible that
20 perhaps Mr. Jonjic will, if he agrees, be retained as a consultant with no
21 contact, as it were, and that could be a solution where one could combine
22 the smooth entry into function of the new Defence team while taking care
23 of your blood pressure.
24 What would you think of this?
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I would just like to add
1 something, and we'll give you the floor back and then Mr. Jonjic will take
2 the floor.
3 So I think what you have understood, there's a consensus here on
4 the part of all the Judges. The consensus would be like this: Mr. Jonjic
5 would be appointed for a period of six months, and your counsel who is
6 currently taking an English test - and we hope that this person has passed
7 her test - would come on Monday already to represent you, and she would be
8 the person whom you would be seeing. You will talk to her, you will see
9 her in the Detention Unit, and you will work out your defence strategy
10 with her. She will, of course, pass on to your -- her colleague all your
11 instructions. So together with her, he will continue asking questions
12 when it's time of the cross-examination. And he has done extremely well
13 so far.
14 So this would mean that you would have no physical contact, which
15 according to you raises your blood pressure, but this would also be an
16 advantage because this would also protect your interests.
17 And third point, the new counsel that would be appointed, as you
18 can see this is a very complex trial and there's -- there's -- there are a
19 lot of common law aspects that need to be borne in mind, and the counsel
20 that is appointed has to be operational straight away.
21 So this is how I see things, the general picture, how things could
22 work out for you. But it's for you, of course, to let us know what you
23 feel about it. You have heard all three of us. I think we've been very
24 clear. We've told you what our point of view is, and it's unusual that
25 Judges agree on a particular topic. For once this is the case.
1 I would like to know what your opinion is. I will give the floor
2 to Mr. Jonjic afterwards, because he has to agree to all of this also.
3 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have already
4 told you what my standpoint is. I am, however, aware and conscious of all
5 the arguments you have put forward here, and I thank you sincerely for
6 helping me in this way. I feel that your intentions are the best
8 I have not spoken to the people who are preparing to enter my
9 defence, and what you are proposing is new to me. I would need to discuss
10 it with them, because they have already invested quite a lot of effort
11 into this. I have to find out what they think of this proposal. I also
12 need to know what Mr. Jonjic would be willing to accept, because he may
13 refuse to accept working in such a team. I am not committing myself to
14 anything but simply asking you to let me sleep on this, of course taking
15 into account everything Your Honours have said, which is very reasonable
16 and well-intentioned in view of what is best for myself and my co-accused,
17 and therefore I would like to hear what Mr. Jonjic has to say and then to
18 sleep on it. And also what kind of role he would be willing to play, if
19 any, and what he thinks about all this.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Mr. Jonjic, you have
21 heard our point of view. You have heard what Mr. Coric has just said.
22 And this could only work, of course, if you agree to it, because we know
23 that you are a lawyer, you have your career to think of, and all of this
24 might not be so easy for you. So what do you feel about it, and what's
25 your view on this?
1 MR. JONJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. First, I
2 have to say that I am very embarrassed listening to people talking about
3 me without being able to speak, but of course it was necessary to hear all
5 Allow me to repeat very briefly the chronology of my relations
6 with Mr. Coric, which he has described with great precision. We have
7 known each other for some 23 years now, and we have been friends and very
8 close until a conflict broke out between us in January of this year when
9 Mr. Coric asked for my dismissal. I experienced a number of insults, some
10 of them spoken out in this courtroom, but adhering to my code of
11 professional ethics and later on the decision of the Chamber, I did my
12 best to do my job professionally and in Mr. Coric's interest, even at
13 times when we were not communicating at all. And this went on for several
14 months. So of course I'm flattered when not only Your Honours but also
15 Mr. Coric acknowledge that I have done my job professionally.
16 Throughout this conflict, my position has been crystal clear.
17 Regardless of the jurisprudence of this or any other Tribunal or court, I
18 feel that in no court proceedings, especially proceedings as complex as
19 these, can defence be adequately prepared if there is no trust between
20 Defence counsel and accused. This is simply a sine qua non for a good
22 Mr. Coric, who is also no doubt aware of this, agreed very soon
23 after the Pre-Trial Conference to have limited communication with me so
24 that from the testimony of the first witness, Mrs. Drljevic, we
25 communicated first in writing and then also orally and discussed defence
1 strategy and questions to be put to witnesses.
2 I am fully aware of the fact that my code of professional ethics
3 still binds me today to act in the interests of my client even if it is
4 something that I would not be inclined to do with respect to my feelings
5 and inclinations, but there are several factors to be taken into account
6 when making such a decision. I have fully prepared to hand over the
7 entire case file on Monday, feeling that the decision had already been
8 made. And let me remind Your Honours that I did ask to be relieved
9 because I felt that Mr. Coric had the right to the kind of defence he
10 wishes. It may not be the very best defence, even as it is not now the
11 very best defence, but it has to be a defence that corresponds to his
12 wishes and expectations.
13 However, to go back to the proposal put forward here today, on the
14 one hand I am fully aware of the fact that my primary obligation is to my
15 client, Mr. Coric. In addition to this, however, I have obligations
16 towards the members of my team. I don't know what the situation is with
17 investigators, but I assume there would be no place for them, bearing in
18 mind Mr. Coric's remarks. On the other hand, the colleagues or the people
19 who will be part of the Defence in future are people I don't know
20 personally. They have not contacted me. I don't know whether cooperation
21 would be possible. And secondly, I am afraid that in the position
22 proposed as an option by the Chamber would serve as a fig leaf for
23 something that has nothing to do with law or justice.
24 I must admit I'm a little bit taken aback by this proposal, and I
25 would have to talk to Mr. Coric first of all, but it seems to me that I am
1 being now put into the same kind of position I was in when I asked to be
2 dismissed momentarily. If there is no trust between counsel and client,
3 it cannot be replaced by any temporary measure. Thank you.
4 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have heard what
5 Mr. Jonjic has said and now things are quite clear to me. I suggest, if I
6 may, that as of Monday, if the Registry, which I doubt, agrees, and I wish
7 to reiterate my doubts concerning this entire process, the lead counsel
8 for my new team, that the hand-over begin on Monday. The counsel -- the
9 future counsel have already found accommodation and everything else in The
10 Hague, and they are prepared to enter the courtroom the moment the
11 Registry gives its approval.
12 I have to say that the beginning of Mr. Jonjic's speech today has
13 left an especially deep impression on me. Mr. Jonjic, let me say once
14 again that it was you who dismissed me rather than the other way around.
15 I told the Chamber this in writing. It was you who said to me, "Find
16 another counsel." It wasn't the first time you had said that, but it was
17 the first time I agreed to that, because I saw that I could no longer let
18 you blackmail me.
19 The second thing, which I find really hurtful, is that you
20 organised several articles in the Croatian newspapers which have the
21 highest circulation about me, and let me not go into this whole story
22 again, but, Your Honours, please let's end this and part peacefully.
23 That's all I have to say.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We are not going to go into all
25 of this from the beginning again. We are faced with the problem, and we
1 have understood you well. We have listened to your lawyer. We shall
2 withdraw for a few minutes to deliberate. If we can deliberate quickly,
3 we will shall return to let you know what our oral decision is, and the
4 Registry will then apply this instantly. So just wait for a few minutes
5 and we will be back soon. We are well aware of this problem, as you can
7 So we shall stand adjourned for a few minutes.
8 --- Recess taken at 3.13 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 3.17 p.m.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So we resume our hearing, and
11 the Chamber will render an oral decision, and at the end of the hearing we
12 will ask the registrar to hand a copy of the transcript of this hearing to
13 the Registry so that our decision can be implemented instantly.
14 After having heard the explanations provided by Mr. Coric and
15 having heard about his state of health, one team is ready and could take
16 over already from Mr. Jonjic. The Trial Chamber, after having heard the
17 explanation provided by Mr. Jonjic, the way he sees things and the fact
18 that he cannot continue defending his client as there is no understanding
19 between him and the accused, the Trial Chamber notes that this is the case
20 and asks the Registrar to appoint as soon as possible the applicant who is
21 currently taking an English test, and orders that until such a time that
22 Mrs. Tomasevic is appointed, Mr. Jonjic continues in the meantime, which
23 should be a short interval, continue to represent Mr. Coric so that
24 Mr. Coric is currently represented and that there's nothing to prejudice
25 his defence.
1 The registrar will hand over a copy of the oral decision to the
2 Registry of this Tribunal, who will very quickly appoint Mrs. Tomasevic,
3 but if this cannot be done by Monday as our hearing is resuming on Monday,
4 if this person can be here then, Mr. Jonjic will step down, and if this
5 person can come in on Tuesday, then Mr. Jonjic will step down on Tuesday.
6 If she comes on Wednesday, then he will step down on Wednesday.
7 So we have tried to come up with an appropriate solution. You
8 have your own reasons for not wanting to support this. And we have heard
9 what Mr. Jonjic has had to say about all of this. Mr. Jonjic, so you may
10 come back on Monday and hand over the case file to your colleague as soon
11 as possible.
12 I would like this to be recorded into the transcript of this
13 trial. I speak in my own name, and I am sure my colleagues also agree to
14 this: I do hope that the Registry will appoint you very quickly in
15 another case so that you do not suffer from this and suffer no prejudice
16 given the way things have evolved in these proceedings. You will then, of
17 course, if you are appointed quickly again, be able to represent another
18 client. You have in your capacity as a lawyer worked extremely well. I
19 wanted this recorded in the transcript. Thank you.
20 Mr. Coric, we shall meet again at a quarter past two on Monday and
21 I hope that a solution will be found very quickly.
22 The Court stands adjourned.
23 --- Whereupon the ex parte hearing adjourned
24 at 3.24 p.m.