The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has applied to hold two separate trials on Ratko Mladic, based upon the two distinct indictments. Mladic and Karadzic were initially charged in 1995 with responsibility for a range of offences committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were subsequently charged in a separate indictment for the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. According to a newspaper account, the Prosecutor hopes to proceed with the Srebrenica count alone and obtain a conviction our of concern that Mladic may die during a lengthy trial.
Dov Jacobs has made some very thoughtful analysis of this on his blog.
I have always felt that the narrative that has emerged from the Yugoslavia Tribunal about genocide charges suffered from a degree of incoherence. In effect, the judges have held that the conflict was not, in a general sense, 'genocidal'. This was confirmed in the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the case of Bosnia v. Serbia. But with respect to the Srebrenica massacre, there have been convictions for genocide, and Mladic himself has been blamed for the crime in some of the rulings although he has yet to be tried or convicted. I was always troubled by the idea that this was a war that was not genocidal in nature but in which there was a brief genocidal episode. It would have been better either to conclude that the war was genocidal in a general sense, or rule that it was not and then extend the logic to Srebrenica too.
By severing the two indictments for the purpose of the trial, the Prosecutor is adding an interesting twist to this. In a sense, it confirms the view that the Srebrenica massacre was somewhat of an anomaly rather than an event that was emblematic of the conduct of one side in the war.