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Relota Testifies in Own Defense, Denies Involvement in Luke Killings

28. September 2015.00:00
Testifying in his own defense at the cantonal court of Novi Travnik, Josip Relota said he didn’t murder civilians in the village of Luke in the municipality of Busovaca.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Relota, a former member of the Nikola Subic Zrinjski Brigade of the Croatian Defense Council, has been charged with participating in the murder of three civilians on the night of January 26 or 27, 1993. Relota was allegedly accompanied by two other soldiers. After having shot the civilians, Relota and the other perpetrators threw an explosive device at them.

“During those five days I didn’t leave Donje Polje, because I had been ordered to stay there. I was a squad cannon pointer,” Relota said.

Relota said he was on bad terms with his brother Zoran, who told him he had been associated with the killings in Luke. He said he heard rumours that his brother was responsible for the killings. He said his cousin Ivica Vujica, who died eight years ago, also said his brother Zoran was responsible for the Luke killings.

“I know I’m not guilty. I didn’t commit that crime. I didn’t leave Donje Polje,” Relota said.

After the defense and prosecution included their material evidence in the case file, they presented their closing statements. The prosecution called for a guilty verdict.

“I’m saying the prosecution has proven that the defendant was one of the perpetrators of the crimes he’s been charged with. B-1 testified clearly about this crime at the Tihomir Blaskic trial at the Hague and mentioned the name of the perpetrator,” cantonal prosecutor Ahmed Mesic said. He said his testimony was confirmed that of other witnesses.

Defense attorney Branka Praljak said the time of the crime had not been precisely defined. Praljak also said B-1’s testimony was inconsistent. She called for an acquittal.

“B-1’s testimony can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Josip Relota was one of the perpetrators of this crime. This testimony is unclear when it comes to significant facts,” Praljak said. Praljak said the prosecution hadn’t proven the identity of the perpetrator.

The verdict will be announced on October 6.

Kenan Kavazović

This post is also available in: Bosnian