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Stankovic: Waiting for Decision on Competence

30. June 2009.00:00
State Prosecution files a motion calling for those accused of helping Radovan Stankovic to escape to be tried before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

State Prosecutor Miroslav Markovic has asked the Appeals Council of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to change the first-instance verdict ruling that this court is not competent to try individuals charged with helping convicted war criminal Radovan Stankovic to escape from prison.

The Council will issue a ruling on this request “within the legal deadline.”

The indictment charges Mile Krsmanovic, Miroslav Blagojevic, Zdravko Vreca, Dragan Masic, Srdjan Vilotic, Miro Prodanovic and Goran Milosevic with “official malfeasance”, Brankica Davidovic and Ranka Dragicevic with “forging documentation”, and Ranko Stankovic, brother of the fugitive convict, with “enabling the escape of a prisoner”.

Ranko Stankovic, Brankica Davidovic and Ranka Dragicevic did not attend the hearing; their Defence attorneys did not explain their absence.

Radovan Stankovic escaped from Foca Prison on May 25, 2007. He was serving a 20-year sentence for crimes against humanity. A former member of the Miljevina Battalion of the Foca Tactical Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, Stankovic was one of the organisers and guards at the so-called Karaman House in Foca, where numerous women, girls and small children were raped.

An indictment was brought in September 2008 against ten people charged with helping Stankovic to escape. However, on February 3, 2009 Judge Branko Peric ruled that the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not competent to try these people, since their actions had not “violated the state’s reputation”.

“The significance of the criminal case of Radovan Stankovic, who escaped with help from the defendants, fully meets the criteria of the violation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s reputation,” Prosecutor Miroslav Markovic said at this hearing.

The prosecutor also reminded the Court that at the previous hearing the judge had made eight decisions dismissing Defence objections to the competence of the State Court.

On the other hand, the Defence argued that the Appeals Council should dismiss the Prosecution motion since the first-instance chamber had issued a “just ruling”, emphasising, among other things, that the competence of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina “is not original” but has to be demonstrated.

“A decision on the competence of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has never become legally valid. The first-instance ruling is completely right and correct, since the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not competent, because there is no decision which establishes that competence,” said Dragisa Jokic, Defence attorney for Brankica Davidovic.

“What has the court in Foca, which is actually competent, to do with the escape to deny its actual competence in this way? Radovan Stankovic did not escape from the courtrooms of the court in Foca. This way the Prosecutor is casting doubt on the impartiality of courts in Republika Srpska,” said Radoje Grabovcic, lawyer for Miroslav Blagojevic.

Slavisa Prodanovic, who represents Miro Prodanovic, noted that there has been considerable media attention on this case, and called on the Court to “resist all the pressures and show courage.”

“When politics enter the courtroom through the door, justice flees through the window,” said Prodanovic.

This post is also available in: Bosnian