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The Prosecution and Defence have presented their appeals in the case of Niset Ramic before the Appellate Chamber of the Court of BiH.
On July 17 this year, the Trial Chamber pronounced Ramic guilty of war crimes against civilians committed in Hlapcevici village in Visoko municipality in 1992. He was sentenced to a long-term imprisonment of ten years for those crimes.
Ramic was earlier convicted by the court in Zenica of committing murder and robbery, and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. The first instance Trial Chamber therefore consolidated these two sentences into a joint sentence of 30 years.
The Court shall render its decision concerning the appeals at a later stage.
Claiming that the first instance Trial Chamber correctly determined the factual status, Prosecutor Slavica Terzic said that the mitigating circumstance were “overrated” in determining the punishment, and she asked that a more severe sentence be pronounced.
“The fact that the indictee is serving his sentence cannot be considered as a mitigating circumstance. On the contrary, it goes to show that the person is inclined to commit criminal offences,” said Terzic, adding that Ramic’s stay in the correctional facility has not improved his behaviour.
“His bold behaviour and misconduct were sanctioned when he was sent out from the courtroom at the request of the Trial Chamber,” the Prosecutor explained, adding that “correct behaviour before the court”
cannot be considered as a mitigating circumstance.
Izet Bazdarevic, the indictee’s Defence attorney, filed an appeal “on all grounds”, arguing that “the criminal proceeding code and the criminal code were violated and the verdict was based on incorrectly determined facts”.
“The Prosecution has not been able to prove one single fact which can be considered important for this proceeding,” said Bazdarevic, pointing out that the people whom Ramic arrested in July 1992 were not civilians and that the indictee did not intend to shoot at them until they attempted to escape.
“Bearing in mind that punishment should not be a form of a revenge, but should rather serve the purpose of reeducating the indictee, a less severe punishment should be pronounced against a young man who regrets having done some things,” Bazdarevic argued.
“I am very sorry for those people. I did not intend to do it. I did it in anger, under specific circumstances, when there was fighting all over the place. I was lost at that moment,” Ramic told the Appellate Chamber.
The indictment alleges that Ramic and a group of soldiers took six civilians out of their houses in Hlapcevici village and shot them. At the time they were shot, the civilians were in their pajamas. Two of the six civilians survived the shooting, and testified as prosecution witnesses during the first instance trial.