Jezik / Language:
9 October 2006

Samardzic faces retrial after verdict is revoked

Birn BiH
Foca accused will stand trial again after appeals chamber quashed his first instance verdict.
Nedjo Samardzic will stand trial again after the appellate council threw out his conviction and first instance sentence of 13 years and four months in prison.

The decision revokes the first instance verdict that found Samardzic guilty of crimes committed in Foca in 1992 and 1993, due to "violations of criminal procedure provisions and incorrectly established factual status".

In the second instance decision revoking of the first instance verdict, it was said that during the previous procedure, not all facts were taken into consideration during the presentation of evidence. In this procedure, the court will hear new evidence.

In the first instance verdict, April 7, 2006,Samardzic was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years and four months imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed on the territory of municipality Foca.

The trial chamber accepted Samardzic's responsibility in four out of ten counts of the indictment, in which he was charged with multiple rapes, beating, murder, forced relocation, and putting women in sexual slavery.

Samardzic was also found guilty of crimes committed in the notorious Karaman's house where Bosniak women were detained –including the rape of a 12-year-old girl. The accused also raped "victim K and victim L, who was 15 at the time", judges found.

In the verdict it was established that Samardzic personally forced the detained women to have sexual relations with him,including a rape victim with the initials BJ.

He was also found guilty of abusing the families Softic and Grbo from Rataje village, after which he, his brother Zoran and Mico Orlovic forcefully took Sucrija Softic to correctional facility Foca, then to correctional facility Kula near Sarajevo.

The other six counts of the indictment, including forced relocation of Bosniaks to Partizan hall in Foca, physical abuse and rape of at least five women and murder of 13 civilians in direct vicinity of Miljevina mine, were rejected by the Bosnian court because "the prosecution was not able to prove without reasonable doubt that the indictee is guilty" for the listed acts.

Representatives of victims' associations were not satisfied with the pronounced first instance verdict.
In its appeal, the prosecution asked the appeals chamber to sentence Samardzic to a long prison sentence – or to hold the trial again.

While claiming that the first instance trial chamber omitted rape acts from the indictment, prosecutor Behaija Krnjic added that it included only individual facts presented by the raped women during the trial.

In his appeal, Slaviša Prodanovic, Samardzic's defence attorney, asked the court to revoke the verdict or to order another hearing, stating the prosecution's credibility as the reason.

Prodanovic claimed that during the testimony of one witness, the lawyer"had a feeling as if someone was whispering" to her. When he complained, it was discovered that the witness had a notebook in the booth.

He also noted that an investigation is currently underway into the disappearance of the Grbo and Softic families - which Samardzic had been accused of. According to the current law on criminal procedure, a verdict can be revoked "when the court incorrectly established or did not establish a decisive fact". It also stated that an"incompletely established factual situation also exists when new facts or new evidence shows that".

This is the second time that a first instance verdict has been revoked before the War Crimes Chamber.

The first concerned Abduladhim Maktouf, who was found guilty for assisting the El Mujahid unit on October 18, 1993 in detaining hostages Kazimir Pobric and Ivo Fisic from Travnik, who were later killed.

A retrial was announced after the defence won its appeal. Both sides presented new witnesses and evidence, and the trial chamber pronounced exactly the same verdict of five years imprisonment.
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