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14 December 2007
News

Vukovic Brothers: One Attorney For Two Indictees

BIRN BiH
Due to the illness of indictee Rajko Vukovic's defence attorney, his brother Ranko's lawyer has represented both men in court.
The Prosecution of BiH has presented its material evidence and therefore concluded the evidence presentation against the Vukovic brothers from Foca. The Defence has now started its evidence presentation process by examining its first witness.

As Rajko Vukovic's attorney Zorana Kalaba failed to appear at the hearing, both indictees were represented by Ranko Vukovic's lawyer Veljko Civsa.

The state Prosecution charges Rajko and Ranko Vukovic with having participated, as members of the former Serbian Republic of BiH Army, in the murder of Avdija Hukara and Mejra Bekrija in Podkolun village, Foca municipality, "at the beginning of the armed conflicts" in May 1992. Ranko Vukovic is also charged with raping witness A.

Witness Pasana Sejfic said that, in May 1992, while she was hoeing a potato field in Podkolun village together with Zahida Hukara, she saw four soldiers "in the distance".

"One of them pointed his gun towards us, to shoot us, but another soldier waved at us and gestured that we should run away. I ran to to the forest together with Zahida and I climbed up a tree. She stayed with me for a short time and then she ran away," said Sejfic, adding that, upon her return to the village, she was told that her neighbours Avdija Hukara and Mejra Bekrija had been killed.

"I met Hana Hukara, who told me: 'They killed my Avdija'. Bajro Hukara said he watched Ranko Vukovic ... killing Mejra, but I do not believe it as I did not see it," said the witness.

The Prosecution examined Bajro and Zahida Hukara on November 14 , 2007. They both said that they saw, from different locations, Ranko killing Mejra Bekrija.

Veljko Civsa pointed to differences between the witness' statements given in the courtroom and the one given to him in September this year. The attorney claimed that, at that time, she said that Bajro never told her who were the soldiers who came to the village on that day.

When asked by the Defence and the Trial Chamber to confirm which of the two statements was correct, the witness gave different answers. She told the Defence that her previous statement was correct, but she told the Trial Chamber that her statement given in the courtroom was correct.

When asked again, the witness repeated that "Bajro Hukara mentioned Ranko Vukovic", but she did not believe him because she did not personally see it. She also pointed out that, when she gave her first statements she "did not know what she was saying" because she had "stage fright".

Defence witnesses Ramiz Rahman, Hilmo Hukara and Ramiz Hadzimusic, who were the indictees' neighbours for a long time, said that they always had good relations with the Vukovic brothers, and that they never heard any bad statements about them.

The Defence attorney announced he would examine nine more witnesses, including Momir Skakavac, who was acquitted by the Regional Court in Trebinje charges of rape in Foca, as well as the indictees' mother and the indictees themselves.

At the next hearing scheduled on January 9, 2008, the Defence will examine new witnesses.

The Trial Chamber has issued a warrant for witness Lutvija Sukalo, who failed to appear at the hearing today without informing the court of the reasons for his absence.
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