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Radic et al: Sudden Replacement of Defence Attorney

28. September 2010.00:00
The retrial for crimes committed against detainees in Vojno, near Mostar, has been postponed due to the replacement of the Defence attorney for indictee Marko Radic, who revoked the power of attorney for Dragan Barbaric.

This post is also available in: Bosnian


According to Radic, the Defence attorney was replaced due to “disagreements” between the two men.

“I tried to avoid the replacement. We have had some disagreements, but if the man does not want to defend me, I will not humiliate myself or beg him. (…) I do not think I have ever obstructed the Court during the course of the past five years. I tried to find a new attorney in a short period of time,” Radic said.

He said he had selected Ragib Hodzic from Zenica as his new Defence attorney. Barbaric, meanwhile, did not comment on the reasons for his termination.

Radic, Dragan Sunjic, Damir Brekalo and Mirko Vracevic are charged with participation in the mistreatment, murder, rape and forced labour of detainees in Vojno during the course of 1993 and 1994.

By a first instance verdict, the four former members of the First Bijelo Polje Battalion with the Second Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, were sentenced to 80 years in prison in total, but the Appellate Chamber later accepted the Defence appeals. The Chamber revoked the first instance verdict and ordered a retrial, which began in July 2010.

At this hearing the Court explained that Barbaric had still not been suspended from his duties because the new Defence attorney had sent a letter to the Appellate Chamber, saying he needed some time to familiarize himself with the case.

State Prosecutor Jude Romano objected to the postponement of the trial based on the argument that the indictee had no legal representative, but the Appellate Chamber accepted Radic’s request to suspend the presentation of evidence until the new Defence attorney takes over his duties.

“Barbaric has not been suspended. We are against the postponement. Up to the present date, the trial has been postponed 15 times. We have held only six hearings,” Romano said.

Appellate Chamber Chairman Mirza Jusufovic said that attempts to postpone the trial would not prevent the Court from rendering its decision within the legally-set timeframe.

“It is true that the trial has been postponed in the past. We are aware that things like this are often misused by indictees. I hope that this is not the case here,” Jusufovic said.

The Prosecution then said it would not hear statements given previously by 23 witnesses in order not to exceed the deadline set “for March 20, 2011”.

In March 2010 the Appellate Chamber revoked the verdict against the four indictees. By law, custody in such cases may last for up to one year. Radic, Sunjic and Brekalo have been held in custody since June 2006, while Vracevic is defending himself while at liberty under certain prohibiting measures. 

The trial is due to continue on October 22. The Appellate Chamber said it expected the new Defence attorney to have familiarized himself with the case by this date.


This post is also available in: Bosnian