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The trial of Novak Djukic, who has already been convicted in Bosnia and Herzegovina of ordering an attack that killed 71 people in Tuzla in 1995, was delayed on Friday after he was admitted to the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade.
After the presiding judge said that a medical expert had deemed Djukic capable of standing trial, in a report from December 15, the former general’s lawyer said his client’s condition had since worsened.
“He was hospitalized for psychiatric problems,” lawyer Milorad Konstantinovic told the court.
A report from the Military Medical Academy said Djukic was admitted at the psychiatric clinic on January 17 – only two days before the hearing.
The judge decided to wait for a report on Djukic’s health before setting the date of the next hearing.
This is not the first time that Djukic has been admitted to a hospital ahead of a hearing. His trial was delayed numerous times, at first because the Bosnian court did not deliver documents requested by Serbia, then due to poor health.
The delays on health grounds prompted watchdogs to accuse the Military Medical Academy of deliberately obstructing war crime trials, which the institution denies.
The former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Ozren Tactical Group is accused of ordering an artillery squad to shell the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla on May 25, 1995.
Bosnia’s state court sentenced him to 20 years in jail in June 2014. He did not turn up to serve his sentence in Bosnia, however, claiming he was undergoing medical treatment in Serbia.
Serbia then offered to deal with the case, but Djukic did not appear for a series of hearings.
Bosnia argues that the court in Belgrade does not need to confirm the Bosnian verdict, but just to take over enforcement of Djukic’s 20-year sentence.
Serbia signed an agreement with Bosnia in 2010, which allows Sarajevo and Belgrade to ask each other to take over the enforcement of sentences.
Serbia’s behaviour in the Djukic case has been criticised by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, andby its chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz.