Jezik / Language:
26 April 2011

Local Justice – Ristic and Devic: Verdict Due on April 28

The Trial Chamber of the Cantonal Court in Bihac will issue its verdict against Lazar Ristic and Predrag Devic, who are charged with the murder of 15 civilians in Sanski Most in 1995, on April 28 this year.

The Bihac Cantonal Prosecution asked the Trial Chamber to pronounce Ristic and Devic guilty of war crimes committed in Sanski Most, while the Defence of the indictees said they should be released or given a limited sentence due to their old age.

Cantonal Prosecutor Jasmin Mesic said that he considered that it had been “proved”, through the examination of 26 witnesses and four court experts and the presentation of many pieces of material evidence, that Ristic and Devic, who were accompanied by Petar Arsenic, “forcibly took a group of 15 Bosniak men” from their guards, members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in Domazeti hamlet in October 1995 “and later killed them”.

“The material evidence, court experts' findings and opinion, Prosecution witness statements and, in particular, the statement given by Petar Arsenic, who admitted guilt, indicate that indictees Ristic and Devic were the perpetrators of this crime,” Prosecutor Mesic said.

Nebojsa Pantic, Defence attorney for Devic, considers that the Prosecution has not proved the allegations contained in the indictment and his client should therefore be released. Vesna Rujevic, Defence attorney for indictee Ristic, asked the Trial Chamber, if it passed down a verdict of conviction, to pronounce a shorter imprisonment sentence due to the indictee's health condition and age.

The trial of Devic and Ristic began in September last year. Petar Arsenic was originally charged under the same indictment for the murder of 15 Bosniak civilians in the Sanski Most area on October 10, 1995 but he concluded a guilt admission agreement with the Prosecution. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In her closing statement, Defence attorney Rujevic said that Ristic did not participate in the murder of civilians. She said that the Court should consider “the indictee's age and health condition and the timing of the crime” as mitigating circumstances.

“His current life is like a sentence. When you make your decision about the sentence, you should consider the timing when this event happened. At that time he lost all he had and all he loved and he had to leave the grave of his only son, whose death was the reason that he started to drink.

"Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I would like to propose that the Court pronounce a shorter imprisonment sentence against my client,” Rujevic said.

Attorney Pantic considers that he has managed to prove that his client was at another location at the time the murders were committed.

“As already said by witnesses, Predrag Devic was at the 'Nula' intersection when the crime was committed. The intersection was about ten kilometres away from the crime scene,” said Pantic, calling on the Court to pronounce a verdict of release.



This text was written as part of a project supported by US citizens through USAID in Bosnia and Herzegovina. BIRN is fully responsible for the content of the text, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, or the US Government.




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