Jezik / Language:
6 April 2010

Djukic: Truth Leading to Reconciliation

The State Prosecution and Defence present appeals before the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, pertaining to the first instance verdict sentencing Novak Djukic to 25 years for the shelling of Tuzla in May 1995.
The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina appealed the sentence, claiming that Djukic should be sentenced "to more years in prison", while the Defence called for the first instance verdict to be overturned because of "violations of the Criminal Proceedings Code and wrongly and incompletely determined facts".

The Court will render a decision at a later stage.

Djukic, former Commander of the Ozren Tactical Group, TG, with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, was sentenced, in June last year, to 25 years in prison for having ordered the shelling of Tuzla, using 130mm cannon, on May 25, 1995, when 71 people were killed and more than 150 were wounded in the part of the town called Tuzlanska kapija.

By the same verdict he was acquitted of charges alleging that he ordered another bombardment of Tuzla town three days later.

"After having reviewed the first instance verdict, the Prosecution determined that the Court should have pronounced a much more severe sentence against Djukic. The Court should have considered the severity of the consequences, because 71 people were killed on that occasion. In addition, we consider the level of the indictee's criminal responsibility to be high, considering the fact that he personally ordered the firing of a projectile at the inhabited part of the town," Prosecutor Mirko Lecic said, explaining the Prosecution's proposal.

Defence attorney Nebojsa Pantic said the proposal was "groundless", and called on the Court to overturn the first instance verdict and order a retrial.

Djukic said the enacting clauses in the first instance verdict were "generalized, arbitrary and groundless".

"As a man and a father I wish to pay due respect to the victims and the victims' parents, who have the right, just like me and my family, to know the truth. Lies will not bring peace. I am sorry because evil things happened between our peoples, but the truth is the only way to achieve reconciliation. Unless we determine the truth, the dead will haunt us. The truth is that I did not commit this crime," Djukic said.

Besides the first instance verdict appeal, the Defence filed a motion asking the Appellate Chamber to terminate custody of Djukic. However, Chamber Presiding Judge Dragomir Vukoje rejected the motion.

Djukic has been held in custody since November 2007.
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