Jezik / Language:
20 October 2008

Bozic et al: Verdict due on October 29

Following the presentation of closing arguments by both parties, the trial of the four former members of the VRS Military Police has now been completed.

The trial of the four former members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, has been completed by the presentation of the closing arguments by the Defence teams. The first instance verdict is due to be pronounced on Wednesday, October 29.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Zdravko Bozic, Mladen Blagojevic, Zeljko Zaric and Zoran Zivanovic, as members of the Military Police Squad with the Bratunac VRS Brigade, with crimes against humanity in the Srebrenica area.

The indictment alleges that the four indictees guarded the buses, which transported Srebrenica residents to Bratunac, where they were mistreated and some were killed. Detainees, who were escorted by the indictees and other VRS members, were then transported to Orahovac, in Zvornik municipality, where a mass execution took place.

The Defence started presenting its closing arguments on October 16, when the Defence of the first indictee addressed the Court.

At this hearing the three indictees addressed the Trial Chamber, claiming that they "are not guilty of what is charged upon" them and adding that they "feel sorry for all victims".

"My conscience is clear, but, as a human, I feel sorry for the victims, belonging to all three parties to the conflict. I trust in innocence and justice. I trust that this Trial Chamber cares about justice and truth and that it will acquit me of all charges," Zoran Zivanovic said.

Zeljko Zaric said that the indictment against him was based solely on a protected witness' statement, adding that he could not understand why this man, "had not stopped us from doing the crimes, which we allegedly committed, after having seen us do that".

Due to the fact that the indictees are charged with having acted as members of a joint criminal enterprise, they are charged on the basis of their individual and collective responsibility.

All Defence attorneys said that their clients could not be sentenced for the joint criminal enterprise, because it "is not defined as such in the current legislation".

"A common soldier can be held responsible for some common acts but not for acts committed by others. This Trial Chamber has to be very precise in reviewing what exactly is charged upon the indictees," Defence attorney Stanko Petrovic said.

Petrovic went on by saying that Zaric was charged with legal actions, such as cruel treatment and generating fear, without a concrete description of his acts.

The indictees and their Defence attorneys referred to the statement given by protected witness PW1, claiming that it was full of unclear statements and contradictions.

"PW1 testified in order to protect himself from criminal processing, as he was also a participant in the happenings in the Srebrenica area," Defence attorney Miroslav Ristic said, reminding the Trial Chamber that the verdict could not be based on a protected witness' statement only.

The trial of the four indictees commenced in April 2007.

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