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11 April 2014

Novak Djukic's Defence Wants New Trial

Selma Ucanbarlic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The Defence of Novak Djukic, whose verdict for crimes in Tuzla was quashed due to wrong application of the law, requested a new trial to be held.

“The Defence proposes that the Chamber revoke the first instance verdict and orders a new trial in this case,” said Milorad Ivosevic, Djukic’s main attorney.
Addressing the Appellate Chamber, Djukic said that he believed that the Court would render a fair decision.
“I can tell you that the Court has not proved my guilt. I am not guilty of the consequences of the events at Tuzlanska Kapija at all,” he said.
At a hearing held on February 21 the Appellate Chamber rejected Defence’s proposals for renewal of the trial and said that it would make a decision concerning the duration of the sentence only. 
According to a previous verdict pronounced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Djukic, former Commander of the Ozren Tactical Group with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, was pronounced guilty of having ordered an artillery squad to shell Tuzla town using cannons on May 25, 1995. Several artillery projectiles hit the downtown area, known as Kapija, killing 71 persons.
The Constitutional Court of BiH quashed the verdict due to wrong application of the law. After that the Court of BiH released Djukic from prison, where he was serving his sentence.  
Although the Chamber explained that it would only reconsider the duration of the sentence, the Defence attorneys said that it was necessary to consider all pieces of evidence in this case. Defence attorney Milorad Konstantinovic said that the stand taken by the Chamber “is not mentioned in the Constitutional Court’s decision”.
The Defence attorneys pointed to the wrongly and incompletely determined factual status and violation of the criminal proceedings. They said that the first instance Chamber took a selective approach towards the evidence and wrongly determined that indictee Djukic had ordered the opening of cannon fire.
“It seems to the Defence that the first instance Chamber is not sure whether the action was committed by the indictee or a person superior to him or if it was an arbitrary incident,” Defence attorney Slobodan Bilic said, addressing the Court. 
He called on the Appellate Chamber to accept some documents, which he used in his appeal. The Chamber approved his request. Besides that, the Defence attorneys said that they believed that the indictee was innocent and that his release would be in the interest of justice.
“The first instance verdict contains the fragmented truth, the truth about the victims. But, it does not contain the other truth…It seems that the target was missed in that proceeding. An innocent man is standing before you. The only decision you can make is to acquit him of charges,” Bilic said.
The Prosecution of BiH did not present its appeal, saying that it stuck to its previous appeal and all of its motions.
“I propose to the Court to sentence the indictee in accordance with the law,” Prosecutor Sead Djikic said briefly.
The Appellate Chamber will render its decision at a later stage.

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