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5 January 2015
News

Bosnia Urges Custody for Strpci Massacre Suspects

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The state prosecution asked for seven Bosnian Serb ex-fighters suspected of seizing 20 passengers from a train in 1993 and killing them to be remanded in custody.
Prosecutor Mirza Hukeljic asked the Sarajevo-based court on Monday to extend custody orders for former Bosnian Serb fighters Boban Indjic, Petko Indjic, Vuk Ratkovic, Novak Poluga, Radojica Ristic, Oliver Krsmanovic and Obrad Poluga because they might influence witnesses and accomplices.

“There have been obstructions in the investigation. Some of the witnesses gave inadequate statements because they were pressurised by the suspects,” said Hukeljic.

A total of 15 men – some of them former high-ranking Bosnian Serb Army officers – were arrested on December 5 last year in a joint operation staged by Bosnian and Serbian prosecutors.

The victims were seized from a train in the Bosnian town of Strpci and then killed in Visegrad. They included 18 Bosniaks, one Croat and another person only identified as ‘Afro-Asian’.

Hukeljic accused suspect Obrad Poluga of influencing some witnesses in the case and Radojica Ristic of using his work at the post office to notify the other suspects when certain witnesses were being called to give statements.

Three further suspects, Luka Dragicevic, Dragan Lakic and Momir Nikolic have been released by the Bosnian court under restraining measures. The five other suspects who were arrested in Serbia are in custody on a 30-day remand.

The Bosnian prosecutor suggested that there could be further arrests.

“The Bosnian prosecution is still searching for some of the accomplices in this act. They are in Montenegro and Serbia, some in Russia,” said Hukeljic.

Defence teams for the seven remanded suspects meanwhile objected to the “unfounded” request to extend the men’s custody orders, complaining that they had not received evidence against their clients from the prosecution yet.

Vuk Ratkovic’s defence team also said that its client was a sick and disabled man who had lost 15 to 20 kilogrammes in custody.

The Bosnian court will decide at a later date whether to extend custody.
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