Jezik / Language:
9 January 2007

Indictees "on hunger strike"

A plea hearing involving four Srebrenica suspects is postponed after a group of war crimes suspects launch protest against the Court's choice of criminal code.
Plans for Srebrenica accused Zdravko Bozic, Mladen Blagojevic, Zeljko Zaric and Zoran Zivanovic to enter pleas today have been postponed until January 15 after the indictees apparently went on hunger strike.

Judge Davorin Jukic announced that the guards who went to get the indictees were informed that the four are not"psychologically and physically ready" to enter a plea, after they and a number of other detainees began a hunger strike.

The Prosecution and the men's defence attorneys told the Court that they did not have any more details about the development.

The local media was told that 27 war crimes indictees and convicted criminal Abduladhim Maktouf, who is serving a sentence in Zenica, are taking part in the hunger strike.

One of the defence attorneys, DuskoTomic, told Justice Report that some indictees from the Court of BiH detention unit had joined the strikers this morning.

The reason for the protest is believed to be the Court's use of the Criminal Code of BiH in war crimes trials. The indictees are calling for the use of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), which was in effect at the time of the war.

The main difference between the two laws is the maximum punishment allowed for war crimes cases. While the SFRY code provides for a 20-year sentence, the new BiH criminal code allows a 40-year sentence to be handed down. In Bosnia,lower courts still use the SFRY code.

The hunger strikers are requesting that all war crimes sentences passed down thus far be revoked, and retrials heldunder the SFRY code. They are also protesting at the Court's routine refusal to allow indictees to defend themselves while on bail – something else that isallowed in the lower courts. So far, only two indictees charged before the Court of BiH have been offered this possibility - Zoran Damjanovic and JadrankoPalija.

Tomic claims that he has been contacted by indictees including Momcilo Mandic, and convict Maktouf, who informed him that they were to go on hunger strike. However, attorneys for the two men told Justice Report that their clients have not informed them of such action.

According to currently available information, beside the four charged with crimes in Srebrenica and Mandic and Maktouf, the following persons are also on hunger strike - Boban Simsic, Nedjo Samardzic, Marko Samardzija, Nikola Kovacevic, Nenad Tanaskovic, Zeljko Lelek, Marko Radic, Damir Brekalo, Dragan Sunjic, Nikola Andrun, Kreso Lucic, Dragan Damjanovic, Goran Damjanovic and Radisav Ljubinac.
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