Analysis – Verdict Expected Soon in Kovacevic Case

27. October 2015.00:00
After a trial that has lasted one year, the Bosnian state court will issue a verdict in the Petar Kovacevic case. Kovacevic has been charged with war crimes in the Visegrad area.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The state prosecution argues that Kovacevic is guilty of murder, rape, acting as an accessory to murder, and burning three women alive. The defense denied Kovacevic’s involvement, presenting alibis for why he is innocent.

A total of 25 witnesses were examined at the trial, and several pieces of material evidence were also presented.

Jasmin Hajdarevic, a witness at the trial, said his mother told him that Kovacevic confronted them in the village of Dobrun. He said his mother told him that Kovacevic had threatened them and asked her and a protected witness known as S-1 to find Mujo Gacko.

“He sent S-1 to find Mujo. When she couldn’t find him, my mother told me she saw Petar [Kovacevic] moving towards the religious school and heard him shoot. Then Petar came back and told my mom and S-1 to bury Mujo, whom he’d killed,” Hajdarevic said.

State Investigation and Protection Agency investigator Sulejman Selimovic took a statement from Budimir Kovacevic, the defendant’s brother. In that statement, Kovacevic said Petar Kovacevic killed Mujo Gacko. Selimovic took Budimir Kocavecic’s statement with another SIPA official. Budimir Kovacevic has since deceased.

Testifying in favour of the defense, Stanojka Kovacevic said relations between the defendant and his brother were bad.

“He [Budimir Kovacevic] kept shouting at Petar [Kovacevic] that he would put him in jail, and accuse him for everything that the Bijeli Orlovi [the White Eagles, paramilitary unit] had done,” Kovacevic said.

Bad Relations Between Defendant and Brother

Slavisa Berijan, a leader of a section at a police station in the area, also described the poor relationship between the defendant and his brother. He said they had disagreements about property issues.

“Budimir threatened his brother and said he would avenge him by denouncing him regarding some events related to the war,” Berijan said.

S-1’s testimony regarding the murder of Mujo Gacko was closed to the public. Prosecutor Dzevad Muratbegovic said S-1’s testimony was clear and substantiated by material evidence. He also said there was no doubt regarding the identity of the perpetrator.

The defense said S-1 couldn’t have seen the direction of the shooting, and said her testimony was confusing, self-contradictory and also contrary to other evidence presented. S-1 was the only witness to Mujo Gacko’s murder.

Kovacevic has also been charged with participating in guarding two imprisoned civilians in the village of Zlatnik, while other soldiers killed Ahmet Mutapcic and Ibrahim Kustura on May 27, 1992.

Witness Edin Kustura said he heard that Kovacevic was present when Mutapcic and Kustura were killed.

“Islam Kustura said soldiers detained him, his son Ibrahim, Salko and Ahmet Mutapcic. One soldier told Kovacevic to interrogate them, to which he replied, “I won’t do it, you do it.” Then the soldier took Ahmed away and he came back with blood on his face. Then he also took Ibrahim away and the same thing happened to him. They released Islam and Salko,” Kustura said.

The testimony of deceased witness Islam Kustura was also read during the trial. In January 2009, he said his son was killed near a brook along with Ahmet Mutapcic.

“Soldiers took my son Ibrahim and Ahmet to the brook in Zlatnik. Shortly afterwards, I heard gunfire coming from that direction,” Kustura’s statement reads.

Attack on Civilians in Zlatnik

Kovacevic has also been charged with shooting at the village of Zlatnik with an automatic weapon in late July 1992. He’s also been charged with burning down the houses of Asim and Dervis Kustura, where three women were burned alive.

Edin Kustura said Islam Kustura told him that his mother, along with two other women were burned alive and killed in Dervis’ house.

“Islam said it was an attack, that they heard screams from the house, and then everything went quiet. Islam was imprisoned and was in the Uzamnica detention camp. Budimir Kovacevic, who was Petar’s brother, went there and told Islam, “We finished Kustura’s – I killed the father and Petar burned the mother alive,” Kustura said.

Kovacevic has also been charged with the rape of protected witness S-1, but her testimony was closed the public. Hajdarevic said his mother told him Kovacevic assaulted S-1, and then raped her.

During the presentation of evidence, the defense examined Zoran Savic, who provided an alibi for Kovacevic.

“I don’t know whether the accused could go somewhere for a longer period of time. He was with me the entire time in the Third Company on the Drinska,” Savic said. He said he hadn’t heard that Kovacevic had participated in the burning down of houses or rapes.

Albina Sorguč

This post is also available in: Bosnian