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Koricanske stijene: Witnesses Change Previous Statements

24. October 2012.00:00
At the retrial of four indictees who are charged with crimes at Koricanske stijene, Defence witnesses change their statements given during the first instance trial and investigation, saying that they actually did not see indictee Dusan Jankovic at that locality on Mount Vlasic on August 21, 1992.

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Witnesses Luka Ignjatovic and Vitomir Lakic, who appeared at the retrial as per a request by Jankovic’s Defence, said that State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA investigators put pressure on them in order to confirm that they saw the indictee at Koricanske stijene.

“I said five times that I had not seen him, but the investigator said: ‘How come that everybody else but you saw him? You should be ashamed of your age. Those children were killed’. So, given that everybody else saw him, I saw him too. As he did not commit the killing, I might mention him. On the following day they spoke to Vito and told him that Luka had seen him, so he should have seen him too,” Luka Ignjatovic said.

He confirmed that he told the Trial Chamber during the first instance trial that he saw Jankovic at Koricanske stijene. When asked by the Appellate Chamber whether somebody suggested to him what to say during that testimony, he answered negatively.

“I do not know. I was afraid of the law, because I could have been sentenced to between three and five years or fined to the amount of 5,000 KM if I changed my statement,” Ignjatovic said.

Just like witness Vitomir Lakic, he was a driver of a truck, which transported the Bosniak population from Prijedor to Travnik on August 21, 1992. More than 150 men were separated from other convoy passengers and shot at Koricanske stijene.

Besides Jankovic, this crime is charged upon Zoran Babic, Milorad Skrbic and Zeljko Stojnic, all former members of Prijedor police. Under a first instance verdict, Jankovic, former Commander of the Police Station in Prijedor, was sentenced to 27, Babic and Skrbic to 22 years in prison each and Stojnic to 15 years. The Appellate Chamber revoked the verdict and ordered a retrial.

Witness Vitomir Lakic said that, on March 21, 2006 he told investigators that he saw Jankovic at Koricanske stijene, because they told him: “How come that your colleague saw him and you did not?”

He said that, after Jankovic had been sentenced to 27 years in prison, he had “a guilty conscience”, so he visited an attorney and made a statement, saying that he did not see the indictee at Koricanske stijene.

Ignjatovic and Lakic testified in presence of a legal advisor at this hearing. As they explained, they needed him due to their “health condition” and in order “to lead them” through the process.

The trial is due to continue on October 29, when indictee Jankovic will testify in his defence.

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This post is also available in: Bosnian