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Presenting its closing arguments for several hours, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina asked for a long jail term of 50 years for Sefik Alic, while the Defence asked for a verdict of release claiming that the indictee’s guilt had not been proved.
The Court of BiH will announce the verdict on Friday, April 11.
The Prosecution charged Alic, former assistant commander for security of the “Hamze” Battalion with the Fifth Corps of BiH Army, with having participated in the abuse of captured members of the Serbian Krajina Army in early August 1995. Alic is charged with having failed to conduct an investigation and sanction the persons responsible for the murder of the four prisoners. The indictment alleges that Arab citizen Tewfik Al Harbi committed the murder.
“What we have here is a small dirty Buzim secret, which many people do not want to disclose. However, justice and evidence demand the truth to be proved. The Prosecution asks the Court of BiH to sentence him to 20 years imprisonment for inhumane treatment and 30 years for the murder,” Prosecutor Peter Kidd said.
Alic lives with his family in Buzim, a town in northern Bosnia where the “Hamze” battalion was established.
In his closing arguments, Kidd said Alic participated, “personally and directly,” in the physical and mental abuse of prisoners and he “encouraged Tewfik to treat them as if they were his property.”
“Alic was an authoritative and respected person. He was very aware of Tewfik’s aggressiveness towards the prisoners, as he was a walking bomb ready to explode. We consider that the prisoners were killed by the timed bomb, which was motivated and not stopped by Alic,” Kidd said.
Referring to some Prosecution witnesses, Kidd said that they were “subjective and fascinated by the indictee” and that they therefore wanted to “protect Alic as much as they could.”
“Witnesses described him as a knight in a shiny armour, who protected the prisoners from Tewfik. We consider that he is still responsible for his actions and he cannot transfer the responsibility to somebody else by claiming that he handed the captives over to another person,” Kidd said.
In his closing arguments Defence attorney Senad Kreho said that the State Prosecution had not proven, “beyond reasonable doubt”, the indictee’s guilt and that the Court of BiH should consequently announce a verdict of release.
“The Prosecution has not been able to prove that Alic was assistant Battalion commander and that he was superior to non-regular soldier Tewfik. It has also not been able to prove that Alic participated in the physical and mental abuse of the prisoners,” Kreho said.
In the Defence’s closing arguments it was said that some Prosecution witnesses indicated that “senior commanders” were aware of the murder and detention of the soldiers, but they did not know what Alic’s function was.
“Unfortunately, the Prosecution has not determined the identity of the victims, as the material evidence indicate that their death dates and disappearance locations did not match. In addition, it has not determined how they were killed, as the Prosecutor claims they were shot at from fire arms, while the recording shows that they were slaughtered,” Kreho said.
In the course of Alic’s trial, a video recording of the murder of the four prisoners was shown as key evidence of both the Defence and Prosecution of BiH.
The indictment alleges that Petar Borsima, Petar Stambolija, Mirko Devetak and Branko Basic, members of the Serbian Krajina Army, were murdered during the “Oluja” military operation conducted by the Army of BiH and units from the Republic of Croatia in the Krajina region in August 1995.