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8 March 2006
News

Samardzic to be tried behind closed doors

BIRN BiH

State Court accepts prosecutors’ request that the entire war crimes trial of Nedja Samardzic be held in private.

At the request of the prosecution, the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Court has decided that war crimes proceedings against Nedjo Samardzic will be closed to the public.

Prosecutor Behaija Krnjic based his request on witness protection issues, pointing out that 17 of the 24 prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify are set to appear under protective measures.

Samardzic pleaded not guilty on January 12 this year to a series of charges relating to alleged war crimes in the Foca municipality in 1992.

He is accused of being an accomplice to murder and forceful deportation of civilians, as well as being involved in rape and the persecution of Bosnian Muslim civilians.

The prosecution said that most of the witnesses due to appear in the trial are women who have been raped, adding that some of them were only 12 or 13 years of age when the crimes were committed.

Besides fears for the witnesses’ safety, the prosecution also points out that their testimony is bound to reveal the names of other perpetrators. With cases against such individuals yet to be processed by the court, such information should be kept secret, Krnjic said.

Slavisa Prodanovic, Samardzic’s defence lawyer, supported the prosecution request.

Besides journalists, others excluded from attending the trial include the Women Victims of War Association, which regularly attends war crimes trials in Bosnia to demonstrate support for female witnesses who have been raped. Judges have said that the association can submit a request to discuss the matter further.

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