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Trbic on Hunger Strike

18. July 2007.00:00
Indictee calls for an end to the process against him.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Milorad Trbic, who has been on hunger strike for 24 days already, has asked for the case against him to be dropped.

The indictee, whose case was referred for further processing from The Hague to BiH on 11 June, has been on hunger strike for 24 days. Since 4 July he has been hospitalised in the intensive care unit of Kasindol Hospital, Eastern Sarajevo.

Justice Report has contacted the hospital, but was told that “the unit staff are not authorised to give media statements”. The only person authorised to speak to the media is the director of the hospital, who is understood to be “on a business trip”.

According to the Court of BiH, Trbic started the hunger strike “because he did not feel guilty”. When starting the hunger strike, Trbic said that he withdrew all previously given statements because he had “given them under pressure”.

Trbic, indicted in The Hague for crimes committed after the fall of Srebrenica, has asked to be released from further processing.

According to the indictment filed in The Hague, Trbic was a former security officer with Zvornik Brigade of Republika Srpska Army charged with responsibility for execution of about 1,000 Bosniaks in Orahovac near Srebrenica on 13 July 1995.

He has been held in the detention unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) since his voluntary surrender in 2005.

As per his request and the prosecution’s motion, the referral council decided to refer the case to the Court of BiH in Sarajevo.

Upon his arrival in Sarajevo, the preliminary hearing judge ordered a two-month custody for him, thus giving enough time to the Prosecution of BiH to adapt the indictment to local legislation. In addition, a psychiatric examination of the indictee was also ordered.

During his stay in the tribunal’s detention unit, Trbic was examined twice by psychiatrists who concluded that the indictee “is not capable of monitoring the trial and communicating with his attorney”.

At the custody hearing, Trbic addressed the court and said he “did not have any reasons to run away” and that he was “healthy and capable of monitoring the trial and proving his innocence”.

The Court of BiH has announced that it received a notification from the Ministry of Justice of BiH which “suggests a possibility” that 26 other prisoners suspected of or indicted for war crimes might start a hunger strike.

The notification says that the detainees mention the fact that, in processing of war crimes, the Court of BiH applies the Criminal Law of BiH from 2003 and not the law that was in force during the war. The latter one guarantees lower sentences and does not recognise crimes against humanity.

A group of indictees went on hunger strike for the same reasons at the beginning of this year, but their requests were rejected.

The strike was halted also because the Constitutional Court of BiH, considering an appeal filed by Abduladhim Maktouf convicted to five years imprisonment for war crimes against civilians, concluded that application of the Criminal Law of BiH “did not mean breaching of constitutional rights or their internationally guaranteed rights”.

In several legally-binding verdicts, the Court of BiH has also explained the application of the Criminal Law of BiH.

In the verdict against Nikola Kovacevic sentencing him to 12 years of imprisonment, the Appeal Chamber of the Court of BiH indicated that “crimes against humanity were treated as a criminal act by international law, which was binding for BiH,” also during the wartime.

This post is also available in: Bosnian