State Prosecution Calls for Long Term Imprisonment for Nikola Maric

11. March 2016.00:00
In its closing statement, the state prosecution asked the court to sentence Nikola Maric to long term imprisonment for committing crimes against humanity in the Prijedor area.

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Maric, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), has been charged with the persecution of Bosniak civilians, which involved his participation in killings, torture and other inhumane acts from November 1992 to October 1993.

Presenting her closing statement, prosecutor Sanja Jukic said the prosecution demonstrated the existence of a widespread and systematic attack by the Croatian Defense Council and Croatian Army against the civilian Bosniak population in the municipality of Prozor. She said Maric’s connection to this attack was also proven.

“After Prozor fell into the HVO’s hands on October 22, 1992, Bosniaks were arrested, deported, raped and killed due to ethnic hatred. In addition to being deported from the town, the Muslim population was also deported from more than 18 villages in the municipality,” Jukic said. She said civilians in the area were also unlawfully detained in detention camps without cause.

She said court expert Amor Masovic stated that 58.1 percent of the bodies exhumed in the municipality of Prozor were women, children and the elderly, “which is a scary piece of information.”

“Injured parties and people searching for their family members are not clear on why this was done. The defendant is the only one who knows the truth. He has neither expressed remorse nor readiness to reveal the location of the remaining bodies,” Jukic said.

She said Maric killed seven civilians without cause and deported dozens of civilians in collaboration with other perpetrators. She said that according to witness testimony, Maric took six detained men out of a secondary school center in Prozor. The detainees went been missing without a trace since then.

“He took them to a location known to him only. Was he aware? We say he was,” she said.

In her closing statement, Jukic described witness testimony referring to all 25 counts against Maric.

Jukic said the chamber should trust the testimony of witnesses who described the murder of an elderly man named Djuzel Becirovic, as well as Zulfo Becirovic, Omer Selimovic, Munib Grcic and others.

Jukic said she believes the prosecution demonstrated that Maric tortured four civilians, assaulted civilians and participated in the arrest of civilians from the villages of Skrobucani, Paros, Duge, Lug and Varvare.

She said Maric had authority and spread terror. She said he arbitrarily decided on the lives and deaths of others, without any external orders.

“Honourable Court, these are people who are still searching for their closest family members. A sentencing is not their satisfaction. We believe he committed all of the crimes described in the indictment. We ask the court to find him guilty and to sentence him to long-term imprisonment,” Jukic said.

The defense will present its closing statement on March 18.

Džana Brkanić

This post is also available in: Bosnian