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Defense Claims Salcin Gave Statement to State Prosecution Under Duress

1. October 2015.00:00
At today’s hearing of the Dzevad Salcin trial, the state prosecution presented a statement given by the defendant during the investigation phase of the case. The defense objected to this evidence, and claimed the statement was taken under duress.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Salcin, a former member of the Bosnian Army’s Zulfikar Squad, has been charged with cutting off a part of prisoner Dragan Vukovic’s ear in front of the Mraziste Hotel on Mount Igman in March 1993. He’s also been charged with beating prisoners in the kitchen of the Mraziste Hotel during the first half of 1993.

At today’s hearing, prosecutor Vladimir Simovic said he had included a statement the defendant had given during the investigation phase of the case. He said that statement contained an admission of guilt.

Salcin’s defense attorney Kerim Celik claimed the prosecutor previously handling the case, Vesna Budimir, took that statement from his client under duress. Celik claimed Budimir told the defendant that he would be detained unless he confirmed the statement.

Testifying in his own defense on May 28, 2015, Salcin said he was innocent although the statement he gave to Budimir contained an admission of guilt. Salcin said he was undergoing therapy at the time because his son had been killed.

“The statement was taken by Vesna Budimir. You know there was a feud between us. She threatened me by saying she would detain me unless I confirmed what I had said,” Salcin said at today’s hearing.

Celik said prosecutor Budimir had told Salcin, “Confirm what you said and you will not go to jail.” Celik said Salcin told the prosecutor that “he didn’t know if he had done it.”

The trial chamber admitted the statement Salcin gave to Budimir during the investigation as evidence.

Celik then proposed to submit a medical report on the defendant’s mental health from the Center for Mental Health in Mostar as evidence. The report, which was issued on September 16, 2015, referred to the defendant’s deteriorating mental health. Celik proposed that the defendant undergo a medical exam by a team of experts, in order to determine his mental health at the time of his statement to Budimir.

Prosecutor Simovic objected to this proposal. He said an expert examination of Salcin had already been completed and that neuropsychiatrist Abdulah Kucukalic had already described the defendant’s mental at the time of his statement to Budimir.

Presenting his findings on the defendant’s mental health on July 9, 2015, Kucukalic said the deterioration of the defendant’s mental health could have influenced the statement he gave to the state prosecution in March 2012.

Kucukalic said he hadn’t examined the defendant, and couldn’t precisely determine whether he was mentally sound on the basis of medical documentation. However, Kucukalic said his mental health deteriorated due to stress, which could have influenced his ability to give a precise statement on March 21, 2012.

“The chamber has decided to reject the proposal for an expert examination,” judge Kosovic said. He said the defense could invite Kucukalic to comment on earlier documentation regarding the defendant’s mental health.

The date of the next hearing will be set at a later stage. The date will depend on Kucukalic’s ability to appear in court.

Albina Sorguč

This post is also available in: Bosnian