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A defence lawyer in the case against five former Bosniak soldiers accused of abusing Croat prisoners at a detention facility in the Vitez area in 1993 asked the Bosnian court for an acquittal verdict.
In his closing statement to the state court in Sarajevo on Monday, a lawyer for one of the five former Bosnian Army troops on trial for prisoner abuses called for his client to be acquitted.
Minet Akeljic, Saban Haskic, Senad Bilal, Hazim Patkovic and Semsudin Djelilovic are all charged with participating in crimes against Croat civilians and prisoners of war from July to November 1993.
The indictment alleges that Akeljic, Haskic, Bilal, Patkovic and Djelilovic mentally and physically abused detainees at the Crna Kuca detention facility in Kruscica in the Vitez area.
Haskic and Bilal are also charged with physically and sexually abusing two detainees.
Akeljic was the commander of the military police of the First Battalion of the Bosnian Army’s 325th Mountain Brigade and the others were members of the unit.
Requesting an acquittal, Djelilovic’s lawyer Kerim Celik told the court that the prosecution had not proved its case according to the classification of the crime.
“The general constituent elements of a war crime against the civilian population have not been proved,” said Celik.
Celik also said that the prosecution did not prove that Djelilovic knew that his actions constituted a crime.
“I consider the prosecution should have proved what concrete actions he committed. The prosecution has not offered a single piece of evidence that Djelilovic sent a verbal threat to anyone. It is unclear what actions committed by my client fall into the category of inhumane treatment,” he said.
He pointed out that witnesses’ testimonies referring to the count charging Djelilovic with hitting someone with a wooden stick diverged substantively.
He also said that the count charging Djelilovic with having sprayed civilians using a fire hose was incorrect.
“There was no fire hose, it was just an ordinary hose,” Celik said.
He further argued that the count charging Djelilovic with hitting a woman could not be proven on the basis of a statement given by the victim, who did not testify at the trial.
“The court cannot base its decision exclusively or largely on one contradictory statement only,” Celik said.
He said that the rest of the evidence did not back up the victim’s allegation.
“It obviously cannot be concluded that defendant Djelilovic acted in the manner described in the charges contained in the indictment,” he argued.
The verdict will be handed down on September 18.