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28 January 2010
News

Bastah et al: Private Police

BIRN BiH

In his closing arguments, indictee Predrag Bastah says that the trial against him was an "engineered process", adding that "false and paid witnesses" were brought to testify against him.

"I must honestly say that there were a hundred employees at the Police Station in Vlasenica, but nobody else is mentioned here except me. The process has been engineered in such a way as to make it look like I had a private police station. All my chiefs are hiding somewhere, despite the fact that they were the ones who forced our Muslim colleagues to leave and took over their apartments," Bastah said.

The State Prosecution charges Bastah, a former member of the reserve police forces with the Public Safety Station in Vlasenica, and Goran Viskovic, a former military policeman with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, with crimes committed against the non-Serb population in Vlasenica during 1992.

Bastah and Viskovic are charged with actions that "contributed to and strengthened the functioning of the detention camp system" in Susica and other prisons in the Vlasenica area, as well as the capture, detention, beating and murder of civilians in that town.

In its closing arguments the State Prosecution called on the Court to sentence the two indictees to long-term imprisonment, while the first indictee and his Defence attorneys called on the Court to pronounce a verdict of acquittal.

The Defence of Goran Viskovic began presenting its closing arguments at this hearing. It called on the Court to acquit its client of all charges contained in the indictment.

"This Defence denies all the allegations contained in the indictment. After having assessed all the evidence, Viskovic's Defence has determined that our client distanced himself from all the things imputed to him by this indictment," Defence attorney Todor Todorovic said.

Commenting on the allegations charging Viskovic with participation in a broad attack against the Bosniak population, the Defence of the second indictee said that it was "an indisputable fact" that the Bosniak population in Vlasenic was armed and preparing for a conflict.

"In wars like the one waged in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the movement of population is an inevitable process. In civil conflicts, like this one, the population followed the movement of its own armed forces. We therefore cannot characterize any movement of population as persecution," Todorovic said.

Todorovic said that Viskovic could not have contributed to the development of the detention camp system, because such a system did not exist in Vlasenica in 1992.

"The movement of the Muslim population to the territories controlled by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was caused by several types of fear. Firstly, they feared revenge by Serb refugees who had been forced to leave their homes. Secondly, they also feared revenge by the Muslims who had stayed in the territory and did not consider the authorities who controlled that territory as theirs. And finally, the authorities feared that the remaining Muslims would support an attack on Vlasenica," Todorovic said.

Commenting on the statements given by Prosecution witnesses, the Defence of the second indictee said they were an "insufficient" basis for a conviction.

The Defence of Viskovic is due to continue presenting its closing arguments on February 1, 2010.
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