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10 May 2006
News

Prosecution launches first genocide case

BIRN BiH
Defence lawyers claim their clients' statements to investigators, in which prosecutors say they admitted their guilt, were flawed.
Prosecutors at the Bosnian State Court have launched their case against 11 Bosnian Serbs charged with genocide in connection with the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, with testimony from a number of people involved in taking statements in which two of the defendants apparently admitted their guilt.

By calling investigators and law clerks employed by the State Court's War Crimes Chamber, the prosecution sought to show that legal procedures were carefully observed when Petar Mitrovic and
Miladin Stevanovic gave statements after they were arrested in June last year.

Defence lawyers for the two men claim that there were "certain irregularities" in the way statement was taken from Mitrovic and Stevanovic.

The judges hearing the case accepted a number of objections put forward by the defence lawyers against the statements being entered into the body of evidence against their clients. While the prosecutors were allowed to question the witnesses on the circumstances under which the statements were taken, they were prevented from asking questions about their content.

Mitrovic, Stevanovic, Milos Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Brano Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragisa Zivanovic, Branislav Medan and Milovan Matic are charged with being "conscious participants of a joint criminal act" of genocide between July 10 and 19.

According to the indictment against them, on July 13 they participated in the execution of over 1,000 Bosniak men in a warehouse in Kravice.

Mitrovic's lawyer, Todor Todorovic, told the court that his client is complaining of pain in his head. The prosecution expressed concern, however, that this might just be part of an attempt by the defence to argue that he is unfit to stand trial.

The judges agreed to a prosecution request to appoint a medical expert to examine Mitrovic.

At a status conference held on March 10, Mitrovic's lawyer filed a request for a court-appointed neurophysiologist to determine his client's health. Todorovic claims Mitrovic suffered a head injury in childhood and said his defence would be based on proving his client is unfit to be tried.

The hearing continues May 11.
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