Jezik / Language:
9 December 2008

Lucic: Verdict due on December 16

After both parties presented their closing arguments, the Appellate Chamber set the date when it would pronounce the second instance verdict against Kreso Lucic.
The Appellate Chamber of the State Court announced that it would pronounce its second instance verdict against Kreso Lucic, charged with crimes committed in Kresevo, on Tuesday, December 16. At the end of the retrial both parties presented their closing arguments. In its closing arguments the Prosecution called upon the Court to pronounce an even more severe sentence, while the Defence asked for a verdict of release to be pronounced.

At the end of the first instance trial Lucic was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for having unlawfully deprived Bosniak civilians from Kresevo of their liberty, detained and tortured Bosniaks in detention camps established in the "Ivo Lola Ribar" school building and "Sunje" hangar in the course of 1993. The Prosecution considers that Lucic was commander of the Military Police Squad with the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, in Kresevo at that time.

In its closing arguments the Prosecution said that the sentence, pronounced by the Trial Chamber, was "inadequate", because "the Court failed to assess the aggravating circumstances in a correct manner".

"The law requires that the Court pronounces a sentence, as prescribed for crimes against humanity under the law. The level of damage caused to the victims, as well as the control, which the indictee had over the victims, were not taken into consideration as aggravating circumstances. The Court made a mistake when it considered the indictee's age (24 at that time), as a mitigating corcumstance," Prosecutor David Schwendiman said.

Kresimir Zubak, Lucic's Defence attorney, said that the indictment was "unsustainable and unlawful", adding that it did not enlist any "concrete provisions of the international law", which the indictee allegedly violated.

"My client is charged with having 'helped', 'ordered' and 'executed' something. Those are three different crimes. This confusion of the Prosecution's stands is caused by the lack of knowledge about the case itself, as well as by lack of knowledge about the law. Finally, none of the crimes have been proved," Zubak said.

Zubak added that his client was not someone, who "knew of and participated in a planned attack", adding that the broad and systematic attack in Kresevo was conducted by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not by the HVO, which controlled the town.

"HVO Kresevo did not have any interest in or need for the attack. It controlled the situation in the town. All presented pieces of evidence prove that the Bosnian Army started the attack. In the course of this attack, both civil and military residents of Kresevo decided to defend themselves. HVO had the right to detain and force people, even women and children, to stay in some premises. My client did not have any responsibility for the conditions in those centers," Zubak claims.

The Defence called upon the Appellate Chamber to acquit Lucic of the charges, "due to lack of evidence", adding that this would be "the only fair decision".

The indictee agreed with the Defence's request, saying that, when the indictment against him was opened, he reported to the investigative organs personally in order to "solve this problem and continue with his life as a normal man".

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