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Adem Kostjeravac after he was deported to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the US. Photo: Bosnian state prosecution.
In closing arguments at the Bosnian state court on Tuesday, ex-soldier Adem Kostjerevac’s defence said that the charges should be dismissed due to procedural errors or the defendant should be acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Defence lawyer Mirna Avdibegovic pointed to inconsistencies in the victim’s statements and said that back in 2007, the prosecution had discontinued an investigation into Kostjerevac due to a lack of evidence.
Avdibegovic argued that the fact that the defendant was not questioned in accordance with the law was an even more important reason for dismissing the indictment.
She said that when Kostjerevac was initially called in for questioning when he lived in the United States in 2014, he was not informed about the charges, was not presented with the evidence, was not instructed about his rights, and was not told whether he was a witness or a suspect.
Kostjerevac is accused of forcing a Serb woman to have sexual intercourse with him at least twice in the village of Bajrici in the Zvornik area, where she was detained in the basement of a mill which served as a prison, in the period between September 18 and October 4, 1992.
The woman was pregnant at the time and the rape caused her to have a miscarriage, according to the indictment.
The crime was allegedly committed when Kostjerevac was a military policeman with the First Muslim Brigade of the Bosnian Army.
Defence lawyer Avdibegovic said that the victim’s statements identifying Kostjerevac as her assailant were contradictory and sometimes inaccurate. At one point she said that her attacker had a moustache, but the defence proved, on the basis of photographs taken at the time and witness statements, that Kostjerevac had never had a moustache.
“The defence cannot present evidence about who the real perpetrator was, but it was not Adem Kostjerevac,” Avdibegovic said.
In its closing arguments on January 26, the prosecution insisted that the victim knew Kostjerevac before the attack and had recognised him clearly.
“The injured party identified the defendant as her rapist in a clear and unambiguous manner,” said prosecutor Milanko Kajganic.
He said that the woman was unlawfully deprived of her liberty and abused on the grounds of her ethnicity alone, and that other witnesses had corroborated her testimony.
Kostjerevac was extradited from the US in June 2020. The verdict in his trial is due to be handed down on March 12.