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In the trial of Gavrilo Stevic at the Bosnian state court on February 11, prosecutor Suada Pasic presented as evidence eight newspaper articles which she received from a State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) investigator, and which she claimed incriminate the defendant.
“Integral parts of these articles are photographs depicting the defendant holding a gun in the presence of several other people. It is alleged that they were taken in a war-stricken area in Ukraine,” Pasic said.
The prosecutor added that some of the newspaper articles said that Stevic had gone to Ukraine as a poet, while others indicated that he was a member of the Jovan Sevic unit. The Jovan Sevic unit is made up of Serb volunteers fighting on the pro-Russian separatist side in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Defence lawyer Veljko Civsa said he had not received the newspaper articles before this hearing, but only some material about attempts to deliver an invitation to the suspect to attend the unsealing of items seized from his apartment.
Civsa questioned the validity of the newspaper articles as trial evidence.
“Those pieces of evidence are nothing else but initial evidence for starting an investigation. If journalists were to conduct investigations, why would we need the prosecution?” Civsa asked.
He said the evidence material did not contain the original photos, but black and white copies of photos from the articles.
“We have no photographs, but photo montages. How can they be used as evidence in criminal proceedings? An expert examination was conducted, finding that it was not known where or when the photographs were taken made. What supports the allegation that they were taken in Ukraine?” he asked.
Presiding judge Branko Peric said the court would admit the evidence, but would assess it at a later stage.
Stevic is charged with having gone to the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine via Belgrade and Moscow in 2014 and joined the Jovan Sevic unit.
According to the charges, Stevic was issued with weapons and a uniform, and carried out various military activities, such as patrolling at checkpoints, until the end of September 2014.
Prosecutor Pasic also introduced as evidence invitations and decisions concerning the unsealing of items seized during a search of the apartment where Stevic lived.
She said the prosecution did everything it could to deliver the invitation to unsealing of the seized items to Stevic, using data obtained from the CIPS database and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, but neither the entity police nor the prosecution could find the defendant at his two registered addresses, so the invitation was posted on the information board at the Bosnian state court building.
Presenting his objections, Civsa said that Stevic had been found at one of the addresses during a previous search.
The presentation of evidence was completed with the introduction of the evidence about the invitation to the unsealing of the seized items.
The presentation of closing arguments by the prosecution and defence is set for March 3.