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3 March 2014
News

Bosnian Serb Urges Acquittal in Mosque Murders Case

Selma Ucanbarlic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Ex-fighter Zoran Babic, on trial for allegedly executing Bosniaks outside a village mosque in Prijedor in 1992, said he should be acquitted because of the lack of evidence against him.
“From the beginning I’ve claimed that I did not commit this crime. No matter what you decide, I know that my conscience is clear,” Babic told the Sarajevo court on Monday.

Babic and fellow ex-fighter Velemir Djuric are accused of taking Bosniak men from their homes in Carakovo on July 23, 1992, acting on orders from the third defendant in the case, Dragomir Soldat, and then shooting them dead outside the village mosque.

Some of the men who survived the shooting died soon afterwards when Djuric and Babic set the mosque on fire, the indictment alleges.

According to the indictment, Soldat was a military policeman in the 43rd Motorised Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, Djuric a member of the Intelligence Centre, and Babic a reservist policeman, a member of the First Intervention Platoon at the police station in Prijedor.

Babic’s lawyer Slavica Bajic said in her closing argument that the indictment was vague and that the court should acquit Babic because of the lack of evidence.

She said that the prosecution has only proved that the defendant was a member of the Intervention Squad, but it failed to prove that it was in Carkovo on the date of the killings, or that defendant committed the crime.

“There was no action by the Intervention Squad in Carkovo that day, and the claim that Babic separated from his comrades and came there has not been proven. That is just blanket statement. An indictment like this is vague and the prosecution claims are in the domain of assumptions,” the lawyer said.

Bajic also said that in previous cases before the Bosnian courts, it had been established that the army was in charge of the attack in Carkovo and that none of the witnesses at the trial said they saw police in the village.

She argued that only one witness had said that he saw Babic in the village and that he was responsible for the killings, but this was contradicted by other witnesses’ statements.

She also insisted that the prosecution had failed to prove that crimes against humanity were committed in Carkovo.

Soldat and Djuric’s defence teams also requested acquittal in their closing arguments, while the prosecution said that they should be found guilty.

The court will pass sentence on March 27.
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