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19 May 2010
News

Hodzic: Acquittal Appealed

BIRN BiH
The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina calls on the Court to revoke the first instance verdict acquitting Ferid Hodzic of crimes committed in Vlasenica, and order a retrial, while the Defence says the indictee's responsibility for capturing and detaining civilians and prisoners-of-war has not been proved.
Andja Obradovic, one of the victims of these crimes, also appealed the first instance verdict. She appealed on grounds that "some people have not been brought to justice" and the fact she was advised to file suit, for which she said she does not have money. She therefore called on the Court to order a retrial of Ferid Hodzic.

The Court will render a decision at a later stage.

Obradovic previously testified for the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On that occasion she spoke about her detention in "Stala" ("Barn") prison in Rovasi in 1992 and 1993.

In late June 2009 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina pronounced a first instance verdict acquitting Ferid Hodzic of charges that he participated in war crimes against Serb civilians and prisoners-of-war committed in "Barn" prison in Rovasi hamlet, near Cerska, in Vlasenica municipality.  

The first instance verdict states that the Court was not able to determine whether Hodzic had any command function in the prison, in which, as stated by the State Prosecution, civilians and prisoners-of-war were detained from May 1992 to January 1993. Andja Obradovic was among the detainees.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina appealed the verdict claiming violation of criminal proceedings and wrongly and incompletely determined facts.

"The Court acquitted Ferid Hodzic of the charges that he committed violations of international rights during the conflict between the Territorial Defence, TD, and the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Army, despite the fact that this was not charged upon him at all," Prosecutor Sanja Jukic said, adding that violation of international law was charged upon Veiz Bjelic, who had originally been indicted together with Hodzic.

Bjelic, a former guard in "Barn" prison concluded a guilt admission agreement with the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 2008. He was then sentenced to six years in prison.  

Jukic said the verdict did not contain reasons referring to "key facts", i.e. it did not explain why some witnesses' statements were considered authentic.

"The Court did not assess all witnesses' statements with equal attention," Jukic said.

The State Prosecution's appeal further stated that it was not clear why the first instance verdict concluded that the indictee could not be held responsible for the death of Dusan Cestic, who died in "Barn" prison.

The first instance verdict alleges that Cestic was found hanged in "Barn" prison one morning, but the Court was not able to determine the cause of death or who was responsible for it.

The indictee's Defence called on the Court to confirm the first instance verdict. Asim Crnalic, Hodzic's Defence attorney, said the State Prosecution had "failed to prove that Hodzic ordered the arrests and detention" of people in the prison in Rovasi.

"I shall refrain from saying anything about the Prosecution's allegations against the verdict," Hodzic said, adding that he hoped the Court would pay attention to the presented evidence.
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