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16 September 2010
News

Radic et al: Large Number of Protected Witnesses

BIRN BiH
At the appeals trial of four indictees accused of crimes committed in the Mostar municipality, the Defence complained about the large number of protected prosecution witnesses.

“There is already a large number of protected witnesses in this case,” Dragan Barbaric, the Defence Council for indictee Marko Radic, said when raising an objection to the Prosecution's motion to hear another protected witness on September 20, 2010.

The Prosecution asked for an image distortion of the witness, who will testify under the pseudonym “AB”, and a hearing through a videolink from Holland, where the witness currently lives.

After a debate, the Court decided that the witness’s previous address in Sarajevo would not be disclosed to the Defence because the witness’s parents still live at the same address.

“The witness will not testify if the Sarajevo address is disclosed,” the Prosecutor stated. “The hidden data is only in order to protect the identity of the witness,” the Prosecutor added in response to the Defence’s objection that the protection measures hinder its ability to prepare cross-examination.

Marko Radic, Dragan Sunjic, Damir Brekalo, and Mirko Vracevic, all former members of the First Bijelo Polje Batallion in the Second Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, are alleged to have participated in an attack on Bosniak civilians during which 76 Bosniak women, children and elderly were unlawfully arrested and detained in inhumane conditions in the village of Vojno.

The indictment further alleges that Bosniak men from the Heliodrom camp were unlawfully detained in the prison facility in Vojno, where they were kept in brutal, degrading and inhumane conditions, physically and psychologically maltreated, tortured, and subjected to daily beatings by guards and soldiers, which resulted in the deaths of 16 prisoners.

The four men were found guilty of crimes against humanity on the basis of individual criminal responsibility by a first instance verdict pronounced in February 2009. Radic was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Sunjic to 21, Brekalo to 20, and Vracevic to 14 years' imprisonment.

Both the defence and the prosecution appealed the verdict. The Appellate Chamber accepted the appeal filed by the Defence and revoked the first instance verdict in April 2010. The appeals trial started on July 7.

Damir Brekalo was not present at today’s hearing because of health problems.

The trial was adjourned until September 20 at the request of Dragan Sunjic, who was diagnosed with bronchitis and said he was unable to participate in today’s session.

Jessie Hronesova

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