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22 April 2015

Mirko Vrucinic Trial Begins in Sarajevo

Albina Sorguc BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The Mirko Vrucinic trial began at the Bosnian state court with a reading of the indictment and opening remarks. Vrucinic has been charged with war crimes in Sanski Most and Prijedor.
Prosecutor Dzemila Begovic read the 11 counts of the indictment, which charge Vrucinic with participating in the persecution of Bosniak and Croat civilians, as well as acts of murder, enforced disappearance, detention and abuse.

Vrucinic allegedly commanded and coordinated police forces which guarded detention facilities in which thousands of Bosniak and Croat civilians were detained, following an attack on non-Serb villages, from April to December 1992.

According to the charges, more than 20,000 Bosniak and Croat civilians were forcibly removed from Sanski Most and Prijedor.

At the time, Vrucinic was the head of the public safety station in Sanski Most and a member of the local crisis committee. He’s been charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of persecuting the non-Serb population.

“Out of the 32,000 non-Serb persons [present in the area], only five percent remained after the defendant and his accomplices finished their work,” said prosecutor Dzemila Begovic.

She presented maps of Sanski Most and the village of Brisevo near Prijedor, as well as images of detention camps.

Begovic said her witnesses would describe the involvement of the police in arrests, the guarding of detention facilities and other activities.

Defence attorney Branko Gudalo said that while listening to the prosecutor he felt like the trial was already over.

Gudalo said the prosecution’s charges were empty words, and that the only correct statement one could make was that his client was in charge of police forces in Sanski Most.

“My client did not fire a single bullet during the war. We will prove that there was no systematic and widespread attack in Sanski Most and that the defendant was involved in no activities with the army. This indictment does not even list who the alleged accomplices and members of the joint criminal enterprise were,” Gudalo said.

The first prosecution witnesses will testify on May 6.
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