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Prosecutor Elvira Stanojlovic told the state court that the investigation into terrorism suspect Milarem Berbic was not yet finished and that the prosecution was waiting for a response to a request for international legal assistance from the United States and for an expert analysis to be completed.
Stanojlovic asked the court to extend the custody remand for Berbic, who is suspected of unlawfully forming and joining foreign paramilitary formations, due to the danger that he might flee and repeat the criminal offence, as well as because the general public might be upset if he was freed.
Stanojlovic said that Berbic had stayed in Syria for a number of years and was a member of a terrorist organisation, trained for combat.
She said there was a fear that following his release, Berbic might get in touch with people with whom he had contact when leaving for Syria.
She referred to a video depicting the suspect and other fighters calling on people to go to Syria, and if they could not go, to kill whoever they could.
The defence objected to the custody extension request, proposing other restrictive measures instead.
“We cannot be held hostage by international legal assistance. The question is, when will we get it?” defence lawyer Kenan Ademovic asked.
Drawing a parallel with war crime cases in which he was involved, Ademovic said that defendants who were eventually convicted of those crimes were not ordered into custody.
Ademovic argued that Berbic has no reason to flee amid the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and no way to do it. He also said that he did not see how Berbic could repeat the crime whileborders were closed.
He said that Berbic had gone to Syria in 2014, following his daughter, who had previously gone there with her husband. He said her husband had then been killed.
“We do not deny that [Berbic] was there and that somebody saw him there wearing a uniform, but it does not mean that he was a member of a paramilitary formation,” Ademovic said.
The trial chamber will rule on the custody request at a later stage.