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19 June 2007
News

Jankovic Released

BIRN BiH
"No evidence" to prove guilt of indictee, court rules.
After almost four months since the beginning of trial of Zoran Jankovic, the Trial Chamber has concluded that there were no evidence to convince them of his guilt - and that there are doubts concerning the identity of the indictee.

A not guilty verdict was passed as, based on the prosecution's evidence, the judges could not determine "beyond reasonable doubt" that Jankovic was guilty.

Trial Chamber chairwomen Minka Kreho, explained that the verdict of release has been passed due to "disputable facts" concerning Jankovic's participation in the crimes mentioned in the indictment.

"The Court has not concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that the indictee committed the crimes charged upon him. On the basis of presented evidences, we could not determine for sure that he committed the crimes," Kreho explained.

The indictment, confirmed by the Court of BiH on 6 November 2006, charged Jankovic to have participated, as a member of Serbian army and together with members of paramilitary formations, in attacks on Bosniak civilians on the territory of Zvornik and Kalesija between April and end of June 1992.

According to the first allegation in the indictment, Jankovic and other soldiers captured a group of Bosniak civilians from the village of Snagovo, Zvornik municipality, on 29 April 1992. Thirty-six of these were killed and three were wounded.

The prosecution considers that Jankovic, on 27 May 1992, ordered the capture, and then also participated in maltreatment, of the group of civilians during attacks on the villages of Seher and Lika in Kalesija municipality.

One of the reasons for passing of the verdict of release mentioned by Kreho were "obscurities ensuing from identification of the indictee".

"Suspicion was particularly caused by allegations by some witnesses that Zoran, who committed the crime, had a bird on his sleeve. The Court supposes that this refers to marks of the paramilitary formation 'Beli orlovi' (white eagles). Zoran Jankovic was not a member of this group," Judge Kreho said.

The defence has based its evidence process on an alleged mix-up of identities, claiming that its client was not there when the crimes were committed.

Judge Kreho has particularly stressed the statements of witnesses who denied, during the main trial, that the indictee was involved in the happenings in the villages of Snagovo, Seher and Lika.

"The statements by defence witnesses, which were later confirmed by an additional prosecution witness, have convinced the court that the indictee was not at the crime scene at the moment when the crimes were committed," Kreho has concluded.

Commenting on the verdict, Dragoslav Peric, defence attorney of Zoran Jankovic, has said that this will have a "positive impact on the future work of the Court of BiH".

Talking to media representatives, Zoran Jankovic also welcomed the court's decision but he also threatened "those who had told lies" about him.

"I am sorry for the people who were killed, but two witnesses ... said nothing but lies about me and they will pay for it," said Jankovic.

The Jankovic trial started on 26 March this year. He had been released from custody at the end of November 2006.

This is the first verdict of release passed by the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of BiH.
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