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12 July 2007
News

Ramic: Verdict Due on 17 July

BIRN BiH
The Defence has called for a ten-year prison sentence - but the Prosecution has not specified what punishment it is seeking.
After prompting by the judges as to what sentence would be appropriate should Niset Ramic be found guilty, the Prosecution has responded that it cannot give a precise proposal. However, the Defence and the indictee have both argued that a ten-year imprisonment would be fair in this case.

"Please take into consideration the fact that I have already been in prison for 13 years," Ramic told the Trial Chamber. "You should give me an opportunity to get out of prison and to dedicate the rest of my life to humanitarian work and the building of confidence in this country."

Ramic is currently serving a 20-year sentence for murder and other offences committed during the war.

During his address, the indictee has once again admitted killing four people and wounding one other, and has expressed regret by saying that he will have a bad conscience for the rest of his life.

The indictment alleges that Ramic, as a member of the commandos squad of the Territorial Defence Municipal HQ in Visoko, killed four civilians and wounded two others in the village of Hlapcevici on 20 June 1992.

Ramic and his defence team deny the allegation accusing him of wounding Sreto Masal, claiming that this individual was not among the captured civilians.

The Prosecution did not want to quit these allegations. It considers that the Chamber should trust the statement given by Masalo during the main trial.

Prosecutor Slavica Terzic has mentioned that, in his statement, Masalo said he was not able to get the status of a civil victim of war and that he needed this verdict in order to fulfill his rights.

Zoran Damjanovic, who had been wounded in Hlapcevici on 20 June and whose family members had been killed, also appeared as a Prosecution witness.

After the witness' testimony, Ramic publicly apologised to him in the courtroom. But the Prosecution considers that apologies and expressions of regret by the indictee cannot be considered as mitigating circumstances when determining the sentence as those were not sincere expressions of contrition.

"We have proved that Ramic committed all crimes charged upon him and that none of his actions was justified by military urgency," said Terzic in her closing remarks.

Terzic has pointed out that, when deciding on the sentence, the Trial Chamber should not consider one single mitigating circumstance and added that the indictee "was particularly cruel having in mind the number of his victims and his public bragging with the committed crimes" as well as the fact that he was convicted for other severe crimes a number of times.

In his closing remarks, defence attorney Izet Bazdarevic has said that the defendant did not commit the crime deliberately.

"There were some military operations that morning. He was the chief of the commandos' squad and had been on battlefields in Croatia where he had been wounded and captured. All these circumstances meant he was almost not conscious of his actions when committing the crime," Bazdarevic has said.

The Defence has also asked the Court to pronounce a joint sentence that would include the remaining five and a half years of his current sentence. The Prosecution has also agreed.

The defence attorney has announced that he will not file an appeal in case the Court pronounces a ten-year imprisonment for Niset Ramic.

The decision will be pronounced on 17 July.
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