Veselko and Ivo Raguz Present Their Appeals at State Court
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Branko Karadeglic, Veselko Raguz’s defense attorney, asked the third instance chamber of the state court to revise the verdict against his client and hand down a verdict of release. Veselko Raguz was sentenced to three years in prison for war crimes in the Dretelj detention camp, near Capljina.
“By pronouncing a verdict of conviction, the appellate chamber obviously forgot that a free assessment of evidence does not mean one should judge according to their impressions, all of the facts must be absolutely proven by objective parameters and based on logic. It is not normal for a court to say defense witnesses’ testimonies are unreliable and given in order to help the defendants, and to fail to explain why it thinks so,” Karadeglic said.
Karadeglic said when one looked at all of the testimony as a whole, the only possible conclusion one could reach was that Veselko Raguz “neither beat nor ordered others to beat civilians.”
“Even witness Edin Djulic said, ‘It wasn’t a beating, but a tap during a conversation,’” Karadeglic said.
In June 2015, Veselko Raguz was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of participating in the interrogation of civilian prisoners Semir Balavac, Edin Djulic, Medin Kaplan and Selvedin Kaplan in the summer of 1993. The prisoners were punched, kicked and electrified during their interrogation at the Dretelj detention camp.
Ivo Raguz was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of participating in that crime and for rubbing a handful of salt on a wound on the body of one of the civilians.
Under the first instance verdict, Veselko and Ivo Raguz were acquitted. The appeals chamber repealed the verdict and found them guilty following a retrial.
Marko Raguz, Ivo Raguz’ defense attorney, said the appeal chamber’s verdict was “unlawful.”
“The rights of the defense were violated during both the first and second instance trial. We were not allowed to examine all of the witnesses in detail in the beginning. Later on, a series of documents which we wanted to present as evidence, was rejected. One of them was a sketch of the Dretelj detention camp, through which we wanted to prove that the tin garage, which was mentioned, never existed,” Raguz said.
Ivo Raguz also addressed the judges, and claimed that the state prosecution was trying to “turn a lie into a truth.”
“I have been fighting against this during the entire trial. They misrepresent testimonies. They put pressure on them,” Ivo Raguz said.
Prosecutor Remzija Smailagic called upon the third instance chamber to reject the defense’s appeals and confirm the verdict of conviction.
“The defense teams have said the victims should not be trusted, but I am saying the eye-witnesses and survivors will be trusted. If we don’t trust them, who else should we trust?” Smailagic said.
The third instance chamber will render its decision at a later stage.