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21 May 2013
News

Verdict against the Cavalic Brothers on May 31

Arnes Grbesic BIRN BiH Doboj
The District Court in Doboj is due to pronounce a verdict against brothers Esad and Dervis Cavalic, who are charged with war crimes against Serb civilians in Derventa, on May 31. 
Presenting its closing statement, the District Prosecution requested the Court to pronounce the indictees guilty, while the Defence said that the Trial Chamber should acquit them of all charges due to a lack of evidence.

“The Prosecution has determined, on the basis of witnesses’ statements and material evidence, that the indictees, former members of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, beat Blagoje Djuras with their hands and legs in a detention camp in the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, Centre in Derventa and that they caused life-threatening injuries to that person. Other members of HVO then killed him,” Prosecutor Slavko Krulj said.

Krulj further said that witnesses confirmed that the Cavalic brothers mentally and physically abused other detainees in the JNA Centre, as well as the Rabic detention camp, near Derventa.

Esad and Dervis Cavalic, former members of HVO, are charged with having participated in the torture and inhumane treatment of civilians in detention camps in the JNA Centre in the Derventa and Rabic military hangars, near Derventa, from April to June 1992.

In his closing statement Mensur Radoncic, Defence attorney of indictee Esad Cavalic, said that the Defence presented material evidence obtained from the Federal Ministry for War Veterans’ registry, which contained the indictees’ names, adding that the Prosecution had not proved the Cavalic brothers’ membership of the HVO.

“According to the Criminal Code and conventions to which the Prosecution refers, war crimes can only be committed by members of armed forces. This Chamber cannot apply the law of war provisions. It can consider whether the indictees’ actions contain elements of general crimes and whether a statute of limitations is in effect,” Radoncic said.

Miodrag Stojanovic, Defence attorney of the second indictee, pointed to differences between witnesses’ statements given during the investigation and trial.

Stojanovic said that witnesses’ statements about the indictees’ participation in the mistreatment of civilians in Rabic detention camp “were based on what they heard from third parties.”  

Presenting its closing statement, the Defence repeated that the indictees were no longer present in Derventa as of May 12 or 13.

The trial of the Cavalic brothers began in October last year.
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