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Extradition of Berko Zecevic “Stopped Until Further Notice”

16. February 2011.00:00
Although the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina says that a warrant for the transfer of Berko Zecevic to the Hague has been issued, Zecevic's defence attorney Dusko Tomic told BIRN-Justice Report that the process has been “stopped until further notice”.

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“I contacted our Embassy at the Hague. The extradition will certainly not happen tomorrow or the day after. I think the Hague Tribunal has changed its stance slightly because Professor Zecevic did not say he would not appear in court,” Tomic said, adding that Zecevic “tried to explain” that he was not capable of sitting in the courtroom for more than two hours because of a spine surgery he underwent.

The Hague Tribunal issued an order for the criminal prosecution of Zecevic due to his refusal to testify at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska.Zecevic is a university professor and ballistic expert witness who has conducted expert research at several trials held at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past years.

He was arrested in Sarajevo on Friday, February 11. He is currently being held at the Detention Unit of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The State Court rejected the Defence’s appeal against the custody measure, stressing that Zecevic would remain in custody until his extradition to the Tribunal.

“The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has issued a warrant to the State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA, and Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ordering them to organise Zecevic’s transfer to the Hague, in coordination with the Tribunal,” said Boris Grubesic, spokesperson for the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Justice Report has not been able to verify with the Ministry of Justice or SIPA whether the preparations for Zecevic’s extradition have been initiated or when he might be extradited.

“We cannot give any comments in relation to this case. Our task is to execute the decisions made by the Court and Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” SIPA Spokesperson Zeljka Kujundzija said.

According to Tomic, Zecevic’s health condition has deteriorated in detention because in addition to spine problems, he is under “severe mental stress” due to the trauma caused by the arrest.

“He was arrested and photographed with a convict number, as if he were a convict. SIPA says it was done in line with its internal rules, but those rules cannot be above the constitution and human rights conventions,” Tomic said.He added that Meddzida Kreso, President of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Milorad Barasin, Chief State Prosecutor, had sent letters to the Hague Tribunal President and Chief Hague Prosecutor in relation to this case.M.T.

This post is also available in: Bosnian