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Custody Sought for Five Released Convicts

4. December 2013.00:00
Bosnia's State prosecution has sought custody for five people released after the Constitutional Court quashed a genocide verdict for Srebrenica, to which the defence then objected.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Prosecutor Ibro Bulic asked the Appeals Chamber to remand into custody Milenko Trifunovic, Brano Dzinic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Aleksandar Radovanovic and Branislav Medan on the grounds of the risk of flight and a danger to public safety.

“Although the Law on Criminal Procedure does not prescribe a custody procedure in cases where the verdict has been quashed, the prosecution believes the provisions of the European Convention for Protection of Human Rights enable it, for protection of a state’s interests aimed at achieving justice,” Bulic said.

The former members of the Second Squad of the Special Police from Sekovici were sentenced in 2009 to a total of 153 years for aiding the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The Constitutional Court quashed the final verdict in October, however, citing incorrect implementation of the Criminal Code.

This is because they were sentenced under the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Constitutional Court ruled that they should have been sentenced under the more lenient Criminal Code of former Yugoslavia.

All five were arrested in 2005 and had spent over eight years in custody and prison.

Lawyers for all five described the prosecution’s proposal for custody as inadmissible and illegal since it was not based on Bosnian legislation.

“The potential issue of this measure would constitute a violation of the human rights of the accused through arbitrary incarceration,” said Rade Golic, Trifunovic’s lawyer.

Golic added that the Constitutional Court had previously established that “things not specifically defined by the Law on Criminal Procedure cannot be interpreted to the detriment of the accused”.

Dzinic’s lawyer, Suzana Tomanovic, also said the prosecution’s reliance on the European Convention was inadmissible because its task was to “protect citizens from the state, and not the state from its citizens”.

Jakovljevic’s lawyer, Bosko Cegar, said the Appeals Chamber was not competent to decide on custody, “since that prevents the possibility of appealing the decision”, adding that his client had proven that he did not intend to flee by responding to both invitations to the hearing.

Dragan Gotovac and Branislav Jamina, lawyers for Radovanovic and Medan, also asked that the prosecution’s proposal be dismissed.

Before the start of this hearing, the presiding judge, Tihomir Lukes, denied the motion of Medan’s defence seeking the exemption of judge Azra Miletic.

Judge Lukes said the hearing discussing further procedures against the five would be held on January 23 and 24.

The Appeals Chamber will rule on the proposal for custody at a later date.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian