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Iulian-Nicolae Vintila’s Defence witness, who has appeared before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, for the third time, has not been examined, because his status in this case is unclear.
The Trial Chamber first said that it would examine Kerim Lucarevic in presence of a legal counsellor. After that the legal counsellor said that Lucarevic would use his right not to respond to questions as a suspect.
“You are claiming that Kerim Lucarevic is a witness, while the legal counsellor is saying that he is a suspect. The Defence is precluded from exercising its right to defence,” said Vlado Adamovic, Defence attorney of Vintila, addressing the Court.
Lucarevic’s testimony was previously postponed twice in order to determine his status. The indictment against Ramiz Avdovic and Vintila alleges that Lucarevic, former Commander of military police with the Territorial Defence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was a member of a joint criminal enterprise against Serb civilians in Sarajevo. The Prosecution of BiH is conducting an investigation against him.
Adamovic said that the witness had the right to protect himself, but this “goes to the detriment of the Defence, which has the same rights as the witness”. He said that this witness was important for the Defence, because he was mentioned in the indictment, and proposed to the Court to clarify his status so he could be invited again.
The Defence said that this situation was not foreseen under the law and that the only solution would be to discontinue the trial until the situation had been solved.
“This is not a Hague trial at which standards can be set, but it is a continuation of the Hague process. Some legal practitioners in Tokyo and New York will read your decision sometime in the future and see that a chamber decided to discontinue a trial irrespective of the costs and three-year long process,” Adamovic said.
Avdovic and Vintila are charged with having participated in the establishment and maintenance of a system for abuse of Serb civilians in “Viktor Bubanj” military barracks in the period from June to the end of November 1992. The Prosecution alleges that Avdovic was Commander of guards on the fifth floor of the District Prison in Sarajevo and former “Viktor Bubanj” military barracks, while Vintila was a cook and guard in the former barracks.
Following Adamovic’s words, the Chamber decided not to examine Lucarevic after all.
“Considering the fact that the investigation is conducted against you and that you are mentioned in the indictment, you have the right not to answer the questions. Therefore, the Court will not order any repressive measures against you,” said Trial Chamber Chairwoman Zeljka Marenic.
The trial is due to continue on December 9.