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21 January 2015
News

Alibi for Indictee

Dragana Erjavec BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Testifying in defence of Zoran Bjelica, who is charged with crimes in Kalinovik, witnesses confirm that they did not see the indictee in the Trnovo and Kalinovik area during the war, adding that they heard that the indictee and his family were in Serbia or Montenegro in that period.
Novak Puhalo said that he met indictee Zoran Bjelica only once during the war and that it happened on the road to Bileca in late May 1992.
 
“We met accidentally on that day. Zoran was in a car with his wife and children. He told me that he was leaving Bosnia and that he would probably be in Serbia or Niksic,” Puhalo said.
 
He said that he saw Zoran the next time after the war and that he had not heard anything about him for many years.
 
Djoko Elez, who knew indictee Zoran and his brother, who got killed, prior to the war, testified as Defence witness at the hearing today.
 
“I did not see Zoran even once during the war. I knew that he evacuated his family to Montenegro and that he stayed there and did not come back,” the witness said, adding that he saw Zoran in Kalinovik towards the end of the war.
 
Zoran Bjelica is on trial, along with Marinko Bjelica and Novica Tripkovic, for crimes in Kalinovik. The Prosecution of BiH charges the former members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, with having participated in the murder and torture of Bosniak civilians, who were detained in the “Miladin Radojevic” school building in Kalinovik, in August 1992.
 
Testifying as the third Defence witness, Jugoslav Lalovic said that he met Zoran Bjelica in 2001 and that he had never seen him or heard about him before the war.
 
After the witness had said that, Milan Romanic, Defence attorney of indictee Bjelica stopped the examination of the witness, saying that this was “obviously a mistake”.
 
“Unfortunately, I have not met witness Lalovic before, so I did not know that he had not known indictee Bjelica during the war. I apologise to the witness. This shows us that the Defence of the indictee does not meet its witnesses before hearings and does not prepare them by telling them what to say,” Romanic said.
 
The trial is due to continue on January 28, when the Defence of Zoran Bjelica will examine three more witnesses.

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