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17 February 2016
News

Defense Requests Acquittal or Repeal of Ilija Djogatovic Verdict

Srdjan Kureljusic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

The defense of Ilija Djogatovic has called upon the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to acquit him or revoke the first instance verdict against him. Djogatovic has been sentenced to six years in prison for crimes committed in the Donji Vakuf area. The prosecution is asking that the appeal be rejected and the first instance verdict confirmed.

The defense has argued that legal provisions in the case were violated and the factual status was incorrectly determined. As such, it requested an acquittal or a retrial from the Supreme Court.

On January 19, 2015 the cantonal court of Novi Travnik found Djogatovic guilty of participating in the murder of one civilian. The court determined that the defendant stopped civilians Bakir Mustafica and Sulejman Sutkovic, along with another unidentified perpetrator, at Ivankine Njive on June 11, 1992. The civilians were trying to leave the area.

According to the first instance verdict, Djogatovic and the other perpetrator sent the civilians across the combat line in Cehajici, where they shot at them.

Sulejman Sutkovic died from his injuries, while Bakir Mustafica managed to flee to territory controlled by the Bosnian Army. Mustafica’s testimony formed the basis of the guilty verdict.

Defense attorney Branka Praljak said Mustafica’s testimony wasn’t credible and was brought into question by evidence presented by the defense.

Praljak listed a few examples indicating differences between statements given by Mustafica. Praljak said Mustafica stated that Djogatovic was accompanied by Cedo Fonjga, who he knew well from before the war, like Djogatovic.

According Praljak, the defense proved that Cedo Fonjga wasn’t present in the area at the time.

Praljak said that in one of his statements, Mustafica said he heard a rifle being cocked and was pushed by something. Later on, he said he realized the defendant was going to shoot him, so he started running in order to save himself. Praljak said Mustafica also stated that the sky on that day was clear and cloudy, but said it was rainy in another statement.

“Therefore, we believe his testimony isn’t convincing enough to be the only thing upon which a verdict of conviction is based,” Praljak said.

State prosecutor Dragan Stupar asked that the defense’s appeal be rejected as unfounded. He said the differences between Mustafica’s statements were irrelevant for the verdict.

“The prosecution believes the verdict can be based on the testimony of one witness, if he is a credible witness. Two other witnesses indirectly confirmed his allegations,” Stupar said.

Djogatovic was found guilty of having committed the crime as a member of the 19th Donjovakufska Light Brigade.

The Supreme Court will render its decision at a later stage.

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