The trial of Gavrilo Stevic, a Bosnian Serb charged with going to the conflict zone in Ukraine as part of a pro-Russian separatist militia unit, opened at the Bosnian state court.
Bosnian citizen Gavrilo Stevic went on trial in Sarajevo on Tuesday for “unlawfully forming and joining a foreign paramilitary or para-police formation operating outside Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
The indictment alleges that Stevic left Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 2014 and went to Moscow via Belgrade, and then to a separatist-controlled part of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, where he joined the Jovan Sevic unit.
According to the charges, Stevic was assigned a gun and uniform and performed various activities as a member of the unit until the end of September 2014.
Bosnia outlawed fighting in foreign soil, but also organising or promotion of fighting abroad, in 2014.
Although it is suspected that a number of Bosnian Serbs have volunteered for the pro-Russian side in Ukraine since the conflict erupted in the east of the country in 2014, only one person – Stevic – has been charged with being a member of a pro-Russian unit.
Presenting her introductory statement, prosecutor Suada Pasic said the prosecution would prove that Stevic was an active participant in the unit in Ukraine.
“We believe the court will conclude that the defendant is guilty and punish him,” Pasic said.
The defendant’s lawyer, Veljko Civsa, said he would not present an introductory statement at this stage, but insisted that his client would “explain why he went there [Ukraine]”.
The trial continues on October 29.