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Neuropsychiatrist Describes Physical and Mental Abuse of Former Prisoners at Avdovic and Vintila Trial

30. June 2015.00:00
A court expert and neuropsychiatrist testifying at the trial of Ramiz Avdovic and Iulian-Nicolae Vintila said prisoners detained at the Viktor Bubanj military barracks and the central prison experienced severe physical and psychological harm.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Avdovic and Vintila have been charged with war crimes committed against Serb civilians at the Viktor Bubanj military barracks. The prosecution alleges that the civilian prisoners held in those facilities were subjected to torture and abuse, and were also ordered to perform forced labour.

The indictment alleges that Avdovic was the guard commander on the fifth floor of the district prison in Sarajevo and at the former Viktor Bubanj military barracks, while Vintila was a cook and guard in the former barracks.

Expert witness and neuropsychiatrist Zorica Lazarevic told the trial chamber that based on her evaluation of the physical injuries, mental suffering and conditions in which five former prisoners were detained, she determined the intensity of the physical and mental abuse they endured.

“The intensity of the physical injuries received during his detention in the former Viktor Bubanj military barracks, i.e. a military prison, was very severe. I came to this conclusion based on the minutes, and his description of how he feels today,” Lazarevic said, commenting on the health of former prisoner and injured party Zeljko Kljajic.

Lazarevic also described the physical and mental health of former prisoners Dragomir Pejovic, Ljubomir Drakul, Milorad Sekara and Slobodan Gutaj. Her evaluations were shared as per a request from the state prosecution, which submitted her findings as additional evidence.

Lazarevic said the intensity of all of the prisoners’ physical and mental abuse was severe. She said some illnesses the injured parties suffered from may have been contracted as a result of the abuse they endured during their detention at the Viktor Bubanj military barracks.

Lazarevic said she used minutes the injured parties gave to the prosecution and the court as well as medical records to create a report on their overall health. She said she also interviewed some of the former prisoners.

The defense said it opposed Lazarevic’s findings, because the witnesses shared facts with Lazarevic that they didn’t disclose during the trial.

“It’s obvious that in the psychiatric interviews the witnesses presented their beliefs in a much broader manner, so that could contribute to the expert’s conclusions…There are already serious objections to presenting these findings. We’ve been brought into a situation where we’re suddenly talking about things that have never been said here,” Vlado Adamovic, Vintila’s defense attorney, said.

Adamovic said the prosecution was obliged to direct Lazarevic on the subject of the findings, and not let the witnesses say whatever they want.

“You can’t let the expert wander like a sheep in a field,” Adamovic said. After this comment, the trial chamber warned Adamovic about his choice of words in the courtroom.

Adamovic said that according to the prosecution’s findings, two more people were examined by the expert witness, which is not allowed in this instance of the proceedings. He suggested that the trial chamber refuse to accept these findings, describing them as unlawful evidence.

The trial chamber said it would come to a decision by Friday.

The next hearing will be held on July 14.

Selma Učanbarlić

This post is also available in: Bosnian