Jezik / Language:
19 February 2015

Prosecutor Confuses Court on Alleged Intimidation of Witness

Amer Jahić BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was not able to come to a decision on imposing custody measures for former Bosnian Serb fighters Ilija Vukasinovic, Milos Vukasinovic, Pero Radovic, and Sasa Perkovic, because the state prosecution did not clearly phrase its request for custody measures.

“We haven’t gotten answers to our questions, which would enable us to render a decision,” said trial chamber chairman Saban Maksumic.

The defendants, former members of the Socicka Company of the Rogaticka Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, have been charged with participating in the killing of Bosniak civilians in 1992. The victims were primarily women, children, and the elderly.

As per a previous decision made by the court, the defendants were banned from contacting witnesses. According state prosecutor Seid Marusic, this ban was not respected by the defendants. He accused the defendants of contacting a protected witness in order to change his testimony.

As a result, Marusic requested custody measures in order to prevent the defendants from influencing or intimidating a protected witness known as RM-2. Marusic had originally referred to a protected witness known as RM-1, a point which caused confusion in the trial chamber.

The trial chamber decided to examine protected witnesses RM-2 and RM-1 at the next hearing to establish the facts.

“This is so confusing that we don’t know which witness was contacted [by the defendants] and which was not,” said Veljko Civsa, Perkovic’s defense attorney.

Prior to today’s hearing, Marusic had filed a request for custody measures as well as an official note on protected witnesses RM-1 and RM-2 released by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) on February 4, 2015.

With regards to Radovic, Marusic said that Radovic had visited RM-2 in order to convince him to change his testimony.

“He [Radovic] asked him [RM-2] to say that he wasn’t present at the crime scene when the murders were committed,” Marusic said.

With regard to the Vukasinovics, Marusic said that they told their cousin Danko Vukasinovic to visit RM-2 and tell him that “the Vukasinovics were ready to give money in return for the names of the persons who reported them.”

Marusic said that RM-2 went to defendant Perkovic’s dental practice and heard him say the same thing.

Judge Maksumic said that the SIPA notes filed by Marusic stated that RM-1 and RM-2 had not received threats, contradicting claims he had made with regards to the need for custody measures.

Marusic said he contacted protected witness RM-2 over the phone, and that RM-2 had told him about having been influenced and intimidated by the defendants. Marusic said he made an internal note about it, but he didn’t want to submit it to the trial chamber or the defense.

“I cannot see how your telephone conversation could help us,” judge Maksumic commented.

Defense attorney Veljko Civsa said that defendant Perkovic was not a dentist and did not own any dental practices in Rogatica. Civsa submitted evidence to the court about his client’s profession.

Defense attorney Dragoslav Peric told the court that the Vukasinovics don’t have a cousin named Danko Vukasinovic.

“Danko Vukasinovic does not exist. He [Marusic] should obtain a confirmation from CIPS [the Citizens Identification Protection System] that a person named Danko Vukasinovic exists,” Peric said.

Defense attorney Petko Pavlovic said that Radovic didn’t belong to the military company mentioned in the indictment.

The other defendants in this case are defending themselves while at liberty. All the defendants pleaded not guilty in January, 2015. Their trial is expected to begin soon.

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