Vlahovic: A destructive and murderous character
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“He killed 31, facilitated the disappearance of 14 still missing people, raped 13 women, tortured 5, and abused and robbed 43 people, said Prosecutor Behaija Krnjic.Krnjic acknowledged that the Trial Chamber will sentence Vlahovic based only on the evidence presented in court, but he added that the maximum sentence is a minor punishment when it is compared to the offences Vlahovic committed.The longest sentence – 45 years in prison – is the most righteous verdict, said Krnjic. This will not compensate the suffering of the victims, but at least it will bring partial peace to their hearts, he added.Presenting his closing arguments the prosecutor emphasised that the crimes committed by Vlahovic between May and October 1992 at Grbavica, Kovacici and Vraca were discriminatory in nature since they were aimed exclusively at the non-Serb civilian population. Furthermore these crimes, according to the prosecution, were committed with direct intent and with full awareness of their gravity.When killing victims, Vlahovic took them away from eyewitnesses, usually killing them at unknown sites. Furthermore, even the late pregnancy of one of the victims did not stop him from raping her. Such behavior can only testify of his full awareness when committing these crimes, continued Krnjic.The prosecutor added that the defendant had a destructive and murderous character and that there are no extenuating circumstances that could possibly justify lessening the sentence.Krnjic specified that those circumstances include the opinion of forensic psychologist Zorica Lazarevic, who testified at the request of the defence. At one of the hearings Lazarevic claimed that the accused was not completely sane during the time when the crimes were committed.The prosecutor described an infamous image of the accused, one that is ingrained in his victims heads and captured in television footage from Vraca taken in 1992: Batko, in uniform and wearing a Sajkacka hat, holding three fingers in the air.His terror was menacing like a dark cloud over Grbavica, and his name became a synonym for evil, said the prosecutor.According to the prosecutor, the numerous pieces of physical evidence and testimonies presented by the prosecution have proved the accuseds guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecutor specifically mentioned a book by Biljana Plavsic called I am a Witness, in which Plavsic states that Vlahovic had the support of an authority in Sarajevo.”The book states that Zoran Vitkovic, the former head of the Territorial Defence, told Biljana Plavsic that Batko was protected by some great authority, and that he stored his looted goods in a hanger under the responsibility of Minister of Justice Momcilo Mandic,said Krnjic.Biljana Plavsic, the former president of Republika Srpska, was released from a Swedish prison in October 2009 after serving two-thirds of a sentence for crimes committed against non-Serbs in BiH.Momcilo Mandic, the former Minister of Justice of the Serb Republic of BiH, was acquitted of all charges in February 2010. He had been accused of war crimes against civilians and crimes against humanity in Sarajevo.The prosecutor told the Trial Chamber that the witnesses testimonies were credible even though there were several discrepancies between the testimonies given in court and those given earlier to the Prosecutor’s Office or the police.The discrepancies concerned only unimportant facts, said Krnjic, and we must take into account that these witnesses are traumatised and that too much time has passed. It is unrealistic to expect that witnesses remember all the details.The defence will begin presenting their closing arguments on January 16.