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Zecevic’s defence on Monday asked the appeals court for an acquittal, but the prosecution called for a higher jail sentence for the former police officer from the town of Prijedor who was convicted last year of participating in the mass killings in August 1992.
His defence lawyer, Radovan Stanic, said that two witnesses whose statements established that he participated in the shooting and provided the basis for his conviction should have been called to testify at the trial.
Zecevic’s lawyer also said that the court should take into account a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that said that the former Yugoslav criminal code should be used in cases of crimes committed before 2003, when Bosnia adopted its own, harsher criminal code.
“It is not clear in Zecevic’s verdict why the criminal code of Bosnia and Herzegovina was applied,” said Stanic.
The prosecution however said that it wanted a longer sentence.
“We are appealing because of the incorrect and incomplete establishment of the facts regarding the defendant’s role in the commission of the crime,” said prosecutor Slavica Terzic.
The civilians who were killed were detainees who were separated from a larger convoy of Bosniak prisoners by a Prijedor police special response unit, put into buses and taken to the Koricanske cliffs on Mount Vlasic in central Bosnia, where they were lined up and killed so that their bodies fell into the ravine.
At the beginning of the appeals procedure, Zecevic tried to make a plea bargain with the prosecution with a proposed sentence of ten to 13 years, but the appeal court rejected this, saying it was not equal to the gravity of the offence.
Three other people were convicted alongside Zecevic last year and also sentenced to 23 years in jail.