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24 June 2013

Sarajevo Police Chief Awaits War Crimes Verdict

Selma Ucanbarlic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Former Serb police officer Goran Saric said he was innocent of war crimes in the Sarajevo settlement of Nahorevo in 1992 as the court announced it would deliver its verdict in August.
Saric briefly addressed the Sarajevo court on Monday, saying that he always valued human life and that he was innocent of the charges against him.

“I feel sorry for all the people who got killed, but I believe that I did not contribute anything to their death. I believe the court will make a just decision,” said the defendant.

Saric is charged with ordering all the men in Nahorevo to come to the local community centre on June 19, 1992. From there, around 100 Bosniaks were taken away and locked up in the Jagomir hospital building. A group of 11 prisoners was later executed at Skakavac.

The indictment says that Saric ordered the rest of the non-Serb population to surrender, after which around 200 women, children and elderly people were moved by force to territory controlled by the Bosnian Army.

Presenting its closing argument, Saric’s defence said that the prosecution charged him as a member of a joint criminal enterprise, but during the trial failed to prove that he actually participated in it.

“There is no proof that Saric personally committed any act specified in the indictment. The prosecution failed to prove Saric knew about the joint criminal enterprise or that it existed at all,” said Saric’s lawyer Ozrenka Jaksic.

The defence lawyer stated that Saric was not in Nahorevo on that day and therefore couldn’t have given any order.

Jaksic also said that the police station in the Serb municipality of Centar was only set up after the crimes were alleged to have taken place, and that there was no evidence that Saric was even its chief.

“Saric was not appointed chief of police and the evidence does not indicate he was actually chief of police in Centar,” said his lawyer.

“There is no proof to back up the claim that Saric was responsible for the transport of men from Nahorevo and their incarceration. He cannot be held accountable for the events of June 19,” Jaksic said.

The court will deliver its verdict on August 28.
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