Jezik / Language:
28 September 2006

Call to scrap Samardzic judgement

Both the defence and prosecution have asked for the initial judgement to be annulled or altered, and a new procedure initiated.
The Bosnian court's appellate council has heard both prosecution and defence arguments against the judgement handed down to Nedjo Samardzic at the beginning of April 2006.

The trial chamber handed down a 13 year four month prison sentence at the end of a procedure that was mostly closed to the public. Samardzic was found guilty of four of the ten indictments he was facing, including crimes committed in the so-called Karaman's house in Miljevina, on the territory of municipality Foca, and crimes against civilians in Rataje village.

The prosecution, which had asked for a long jail term to be imposed, appealed because it was unhappy with the length of the sentence. It has asked the appeal chamber to increase the sentence, or order a retrial.

Prosecutor Behaija Krnjic justified this request with the words that the first instance trial chamber "did not make a decision based on the right facts".

"The first instance trial chamber left out the operations from the indictment dealing with rapes by accepting only individual facts given by the raped women during their testimonies," Krnjic claimed.

Samardzic is charged with the rape of Bosniak women, some of who were underage. One of the young victims mentioned in the indictment disappeared after she was abused and has not been found to this day. As was repeated today, it is assumed that after being held in Miljevina detention camp, the minor in question was sold.

The prosecution also stressed that the first instance trial chamber did not make a decision on requests regarding compensation for the victims who testified.

Slavisa Prodanovic, Nedjo Samardzic's defence attorney, asked for the judgement to be annulled or for the trial to be staged again, claiming that the credibility of prosecution witnesses was in doubt.

"During the testimony of one of the protected witnesses, I had a feeling as if someone was whispering to her. We did not see [her]. Later we found out that the witness used some sort of a notebook during her testimony," Prodanovic said.

Prodanovic also argued that another man is being investigated in connection with the same crimes his defendant had been convicted of.

But prosecutor Krnjic noted: "If an investigation is in process, it does not mean that an indictment will be filed."

The defence has also appealed against a section of the indictment where the defendant is named as an accomplice to a crime committed by unnamed persons, and to a section that mentions Nedjo Samardzic's brother Zoran. Prodanovic claims that Zoran was not at the scene of the crime.

"I have a release letter from the hospital stating that Zoran Samardzic was wounded, after which he was in the hospital for a while," Prodanovic said.

The prosecution responded that Zoran Samardzic had nothing to do with the case.

"Of course he does," the defence attorney objected. "It has to do with prosecution witness' credibility."

The appellate council, chaired by Judge Azra Miletic, will consider both sides' appeals and make a decision within the legal three-month deadline.

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