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14 September 2007
News

Lucic: Verdict Due on 18 September

BIRN BiH
Kreso Lucic's Defence argues that the Prosecution has not presented enough evidence and has asked that the defendant be released.

After the Defence presented its closing arguments, the trial of Kreso Lucic has com to an close.

Lucic, who was indicted for crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Kresevo in 1993, will hear the first instance verdict on Tuesday, 18 September.

The Defence considers that the Trial Chamber should pronounce a verdict of release in the case of Kreso Lucic "due to lack of evidence". Yesterday, the Prosecution asked that the indictee be found guilty on the basis of evidence presented in the course of the main trial.

The indictment alleges that Lucic, in his capacity as commander of the Military Police with the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), "detained and tortured Bosniak civilians from Kresevo and the surrounding villages" in the period from April to end September 1993. It also alleges that he helped others to commit inhumane acts, including forced labour and detention of people in bad conditions.

Defence attorney Kresimir Zubak considers that "the prosecution has not proved anything" and that, "in its closing remarks, the prosecution partially assessed the witnesses' statements and took into consideration only the parts that are favourable to [them]".

"The Prosecution has not presented one single piece of evidence proving that Lucic ordered the detention and torture of Bosniak civilians, although it has charged these acts upon him. Not one witness who had been beaten in presence of my client said that [the indictee] had ordered the beating," Zubak has said.

According to the indictment, Bosniak civilians from Kresevo and the surrounding villages were detained in "Ivo Lola Ribar" elementary school and "Sunje" hangar. Allegedly "some of them performed forced labour and some were tortured".

In its closing arguments, the defence has denied Lucic's command responsibility. It has reiterated that he was "superior to subordinate policemen, but he did not have the responsibility to order the detention, trench digging or any other responsibility concerning Sunje detention camp".

"My client and the Military Police forces do not have any relation to Sunje detention camp and the elementary school as they were under the jurisdiction of the civil police," Zubak has said, adding that "the only role of the military policemen was to guard the building over a certain period of time".

The defence also claims that the prosecution has not been able to prove that Lucic issued an order for the capture of civilians or for their detention. Commenting on the witnesses' statements - which indicated that the indictee did give such orders - Zubak has said that the statements were "contradictory" as "military police did not have any particular marks or uniforms before 1994 and they would only wear white belts when they were going to arrest HVO members".

In its closing remarks, the Defence also pointed out that a sentence has already been pronounced before the Cantonal Court in Travnik for the same criminal offences charged upon Lucic. It has therefore said that "the defendant should not suffer due to lack of coordination on the prosecution's side, as it should not happen that two persons are convicted for the same offence".

The Defence has repeated that the Army of BiH committed the attack on Kresevo "in order to liberate the city, although the city had been controlled by HVO, which was a legal formation. It is therefore not clear from whom they liberated the city, as 80 per cent of its citizens were Croats".

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