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The prosecution proposed that the appeals court confirm the two convictions and retry the acquittal. The defense proposed that the two convictions be quashed and the acquittal upheld.
In October 2014, the Bosnian state court sentenced former Bosnian Serb reserve police officers Predrag Milisavljevic and Milos Pantelic to 20 years in prison for the execution of 48 Bosniak civilians from Visegrad in 1992. The third defendant, Ljubomir Tasic, was cleared of the charges against him.
Milisavljevic and Pantelic were found guilty of taking part in the massacre of 48 men from Visegrad in the municipality of Sokolac on June 15, 1992, but were cleared of charges of displacing Bosniak civilians and abusing prisoners.
Milisavljevic was further cleared of charges of sexually abusing prisoners at the police station in Visegrad in May 1992. The judge said witnesses couldn’t clearly identify who ordered the abuse.
Prosecutor Dzevad Muratbegovic appealed to the part of the verdict which acquitted Tasic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Visegrad Brigade, of taking part in the forced displacement of Bosniaks from Visegrad in a convoy on June 14, 1992.
According to Muratbegovic, Tasic told Bosniaks from Dobrun to be prepared for ethnic cleansing and that soldiers would kill the Bosniaks they found. Tasic, Muratbegovic said, also told civilians to leave their homes and take their belongings with them. Muratbegovic described Tasic as an influential figure.
“He betrayed the trust of the Bosniaks who believed him blindly,” Muratbegovic said. He said Tasic’s words could be understood as direct orders.
The defense said the first instance verdict was correct in determining that Tasic didn’t give any order and that he only advised civilians that he couldn’t protect them. Defense attorney Mirsada Beganovic-Zutic said that Tasic wasn’t influential and wasn’t anyone’s superior.
According to the verdict, on June 15, 1992, 48 men from the convoy were taken to the Paklenik Pit and were killed there. Muratbegovic said that the first instance verdict was correct in concluding that Milisavljevic and Pantelic took part in the crime, but asked for harsher sentencing. The defense teams of both convicts described the verdict as “beyond understanding.”
Dragisa Mihajlovic, Milisavljevic’s defense attorney, said a protected witness known as M7 and Ferid Spahic, who’d survived the massacre in the Paklenik Pit, were the key witnesses.
“The entire verdict is based only on parts of those two statements, which speak against Milisavljevic,” Mihajlovic said.
Mihajlovic said their statements were contradictory and that Spahic said that M7 participated in the abuse and restrainment of men who were taken to the Paklenik Pit.
Mihajlovic also said Spahic didn’t mention Milisavljevic as one of the soldiers who took the captives to the Paklenik Pit in his 1992 statement.
Nenad Rubez, Pantelic’s defense attorney, his client was convicted solely based on a statement given by M7, which he described as questionable.
“There are many contradictions here,” Rubez said.
The appeals chamber will come to a decision at a later date.