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15 December 2015

Avdovic Defense on Second Day of Closing Statement

Amer Jahic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

On the second day of his closing statement, Ramiz Avdovic’s defense attorney called for a verdict of release for his client, who’s been charged with committing war crimes in Sarajevo in 1992.

Ramiz Avdovic and Iulian-Nicolae Vintila have been charged with war crimes committed against Serb civilians at the Viktor Bubanj military barracks and the fifth floor of the central prison in Sarajevo. The prosecution alleges that the civilian prisoners held in those facilities were subjected to torture and abuse, and were also ordered to perform forced labour.

The indictment alleges that Avdovic was the guard commander on the fifth floor of the district prison in Sarajevo and at the former Viktor Bubanj military barracks, while Vintila was a cook and guard in the barracks.

At today’s hearing, Avdovic’s defense attorney Mirza Kovac said the state prosecution had not proven his client’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Kovac said the state prosecution didn’t press charges against witnesses who would have been complicit in his client’s crimes.

“If it weren’t funny, it would be sad,” Kovac said.

Most of Kovac’s closing statement focused on analysing witness testimony and denying that Avdovic was a guard commander.

Indira Karahodzic, Avdovic’s second defense attorney, said state prosecution witness and former prisoner Rade Vucicevic said there were several guards at the prison and the barracks named Ramiz.

“There were three of them, but Ramiz Avdovic...none of them introduced himself to me with that name,” Karahodzic said, quoting Vucicevic.

Karahodzic also commented on testimony given by Senad Kreho, the former president of the District Court Martial, who said he used to visit the Viktor Bubanj barracks and knew Avdovic as a guard.

Karahodzic said other witnesses said they didn’t know Avdovic or heard of him, while only some witnesses mentioned his first name.

Karahodzic said witness Strahinja Zivak didn’t know Avdovic, but heard that he used to visit the cells at the barracks when food was distributed to the prisoners.

Avdovic’s defense said the prosecution failed to prove that Avdovic ordered others to use the prisoners for forced labour.

Vintila’s defense will present its closing statement on January 12.

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