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6 December 2007
News

Mejakic et al: Defence Evidence

BIRN BiH
The four indictees' Defence teams say they will invite former guards in Omarska detention camp to testify.
At a status conference held on Thursday, December 6, the Defence teams of the four indictees have announced that they will invite former guards and investigators from Omarska to testify.

The Trial Chamber has set the date for the presentation of introductory remarks and the examination of the first witnesses.

"The Defence teams will have an opportunity to present their introductory remarks and evidence presentation plan to the Trial Chamber on Tuesday, December 11. In addition, the defence teams must submit their proposals to the Prosecution in English, so that the prosecutor can pronounce himself, in writing, on those proposals by Monday, December 10," said Trial Chamber chairman Saban Maksumic, adding that the examination of first witnesses might take place on "January 10 or 11, 2008".

Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic are charged with having participated in the rape, murder, torture and beating of Bosniaks and Croats held in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in the 1992.

Mejakic's Defence attorney Jovan Simic said that more than 50 witnesses would be examined, some of whom were "direct participants in some events". He reiterated that the number of witnesses could be smaller if the Prosecution of BiH would revise the indictment.

"I would like to know why the Prosecution sticks to the indictment as it is now, because it is now clear to everybody that the indictees did not have access to food in Omarska. Should the prosecution decide to dismiss that charge of the indictment, we would reduce the number of our witnesses," Simic explained.

Simic also said that the Defence witnesses will include former Omarska guards and investigators as well as "direct participants in some events".

"We have decided to examine indictee Mejakic as our first witness. We shall need two to three days for his examination. We have also planned to invite former members of the Public Safety Centre, who interrogated people in Omarska collection centre, as well as former guards and witnesses who will confirm that the staff members were not responsible for medical aid," said Simic.

The Defence of Zeljko Mejakic will also invite some experts, who will "explain the competencies and functioning of police". It will present, as material evidence, "various orders and documents, which will show what Mejakic's competencies were".

The Defence teams of Dusan Fustar, Momcilo Gruban and Dusko Knezevic will present the Trial Chamber with their evidence presentation plans at a later stage.

Prosecutor Kidd pointed out that the Defence's proposals contain general topics and he does not know "what the witnesses will talk about".

"The Defence wants to invite a large number of witnesses, but they do not know what they are going to talk about. I consider that the Prosecution of BiH has the right to know what circumstances they will cover in their testimonies, in order to be prepared for cross-examination," Kidd explained.

The trial is due to continue on Tuesday, December 11.
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