Jezik / Language:
17 June 2015

Begovic Trial Postponed, Witness Fails to Appear in Court

Dragana Erjavec BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The Gligor Begovic trial was postponed due to the absence of a prosecution witness who was expected to testify at today’s hearing.
The Bosnian state prosecution has charged Begovic, a former member of the Bosnian Serb Army, with participating in the assault of Bosniak civilians and prisoners of war held at the Batkovic detention center in Bijeljina in the summer of 1992.

The indictment, containing 25 counts, alleges that detainees were subjected to an atmosphere of terror, consisting of acts of murder and abuse. The detainees were forced to endure inhumane living conditions, including insufficient water, food, medical care and inadequate sleeping conditions.

“The witness hasn’t appeared and isn’t responding to calls. There’s no sign of him anywhere, so I think there’s no purpose in holding this hearing,” said trial chamber chairwoman Minka Kreho at the beginning of the hearing.

After having been informed that the witness had not appeared and that the prosecutor had not invited another witness to today’s hearing, Kreho said this happened repeatedly, “particularly when younger colleagues from the Bosnian state prosecution are involved.”

“You file an indictment, but you don’t call a witness to check whether he is alive. You should first speak to the witnesses and then provide the court with a list of people who you’ll invite to testify,” Kreho said.

Prosecutor Miroslav Janjic said he had spoken to the witness over the phone twice, but no one has had answered his phone number recently.

“I apologize, but these witnesses have been invited to testify 17 years later. Some of them are angry. They have their lives, they change their opinions and they’re often not capable of talking about their experiences,” Janjic said, adding that he would not give up the examination of the witness.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 1.
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