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At separate hearings, the prosecution asked the court to order extensions of Kasupovic and Keserovic’s custody remands because of the danger that they might flee, influence witnesses and repeat their offence, and that the general public might be upset if they were freed.
The defence proposed that measures restricting their movements and contacts be imposed instead.
At the hearing in the Kasupovic case, prosecutor Dubravko Campara said that the defendant had made numerous acquaintances during his six-year stay in Syria, and that he might use them to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said that the evidence against him, including videos in which he appears, was an additional motive for flight.
Campara said that Kasupovic did not want to return from Syria, adding he was captured in the last Islamic State stronghold. He also argued the defendant might return to Syria or commit some similar offences in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He referred to footage of atrocities committed by Islamic State members, claiming that releasing the organisation’s members would unsettle the public.
He also said that witnesses would not be able to testify without fear if the defendant was at liberty.
Kasupovic’s defence lawyer Senad Bilic said that, when presenting its arguments for custody, the prosecution emphasised the gravity of the crime, but he argued that a series of trials of war crime defendants are being conducted before the state court without those defendants being held in custody or even under restrictive measures.
Responding to the prosecution’s allegation that the defendant did not want to return from Syria, Bilic said that the defendant had his last contact with someone in Bosnia and Herzegovina before a warrant was issued for his arrest in 2016.
The defence lawyer said that Bosnia had done nothing in terms of logistics to bring its citizens back from Syria, and that it was not easy for an individual to come back by himself.
He said that Islamic State had ceased to exist and wondered who the defendant could contact should he return to Syria. He mentioned that an expert report indicated that Kasupovic was not radical and had expressed remorse and disagreement with Islamic State’s ideology.
At the hearing, Kasupovic said that many accusations against him were based on lies. He denied the claim that he did not want to return to Bosnia from Syria.
“We prayed for help to go back,” the defendant said.
Kasupovic is charged with having travelled to Syria in July 2013, joined Islamic State and participated in terrorist activities. Similar charges were filed against Jasmin Keserovic.
At the Keserovic hearing, prosecutor Suada Pasic said that the defendant left the country in January 2013 and was among the first Bosnian citizens to join Islamic State. She also said there was a fear that he might influence witnesses and repeat the criminal offence if freed from custody.
Pasic pointed out that Keserovic was trained for war and participated in attacks, adding that his stance could be seen in video footage.
According to the charges, during his stay in Syria, Keserovic released a video calling for the killing of Christians.
His defence lawyer Senad Dupovac argued that due to the coronavirus crisis, people could not go in or out of countries, and the idea that the defendant could return to Syria was unreal.
He also said that due to the pandemic, the public were no longer talking about the fighters who returned from Syria.
The court will make its decision about the custody extension motions at a later stage.