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10 July 2015

Miletic Defense Wants Case Transferred to Municipal Court

Marija Tausan BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Azra Miletic’s defense has asked for her case to be transferred to a municipal level court, due to fears that state court judges she used to work with might be biased in her trial.
In February 2015, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested Miletic, an appeals judge with the Bosnian state court, on suspicion of accepting bribes along with Ramo Brkic and Senad Sabic.
Under a first instance verdict Brkic and Sabic were sentenced to eleven and ten years in prison, respectively, for the illegal trade and production of drugs as well as other crimes. The Bosnian state prosecution later charged Miletic, who worked with the appellate court, of having accepted presents and other favours from Brkic and Sabic in order to influence the verdict.

At today’s hearing, Miletic’s defense claimed that state court judges couldn’t possibly be unbiased in her case, considering Miletic worked at the state court for 11 years.

“Working closely together for so many years inevitably builds personal opinions amongst colleagues, which can vary from positive to negative,” Miletic’s defense said in a statement to the court.

When Miletic was arrested in February, her colleagues responded by issuing a public statement and organizing a press conference, in which they stated that the state court was ready to deal with corruption, even amongst its own ranks.

The defense said the case could legally be transferred to a municipal court, since there were doubts as to the independence and lack of bias in the state court.
The defense described the case of Dragica Miletic, another state court judge who was charged with abuse of power.
“One shouldn’t look away from the fact that in this case the defendant was a member of the appeals chamber for a decade, and that if the case were to continue before this court, her long-term colleagues would be the ones writing the final verdict,” Miletic’s defense said.

The defense claims there are other reasons why the case should be transferred to the municipal court of Sarajevo.
The defense claimed the first statements taken from the prosecution indicated that Miletic “demanded” money, whereas the final indictment states she “accepted an offer of a gift” as well as 5000 euros. Considering the small sum and the possible length of the sentence, the defense claimed it was more appropriate for the municipal courts to take on the case.
“The mere fact that this is a Bosnian state court judge, and not some other citizen, can’t be enough to force this case to continue before the Bosnian state court. Because this court does not pass the test of objective independence,” Edina and Jasenka Residovic, Miletic’s defense attorneys said.
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