Jezik / Language:
6 November 2008

Todovic and Rasevic: First instance verdict appeals

The Prosecution and Defence present their appeals to the first instance verdict against Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic.
The Prosecution and Defence presented, before the Appellate Chamber of the State Court, their appeals to the first instance verdict, by which Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic were sentenced to a total of 21 years' imprisonment for crimes committed in the Foca Correctional Facility. The Chamber shall render a decision concerning the appeals at a later stage.

Rasevic, a former commander of guards in the Facility, was sentenced to eight and a half years, while Todovic, former deputy commander of the Facility, was sentenced to 12 and a half years' imprisonment. The indictment alleged that the two men participated, from April 1992 to October 1994, in the abuse of more than 700 detainees in the Foca Facility. In addition, they were pronounced guilty of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise.

The State Prosecution appealed the verdict due to "the wrongly and incompletely determined factual status" and the criminal and legal sanction, calling upon the Court to revise the first instance verdict.

Among other things, the Prosecution said that it considered that the Trial Chamber did not "sufficiently" appreciate all circumstances, particularly the aggravating ones, which could have affected the pronounced sentence.

The Defence teams and Savo Todovic filed appeals due to the same two reasons and also due to the alleged violation of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and Criminal Code. Rasevic's Defence called upon the Court to acquit the indictee or order a retrial, while Savo Todovic's Defence said that it would agree to "a less severe punishment".

Slavisa Prodanovic, Rasevic's Defence attorney, said several times that the verdict was "incomprehensive and contradictory in itself", adding that its conclusion was "confusing".

"The statement is so unclear that the Defence does not know for which crimes Rasevic was pronounced guilty. A general confusion has been created. The Defence has got an impression that the verdict has lost its sense due to its particularity. We still claim that nothing but a verdict of release would be adequate in this case, as such verdict would send a message to everyone that it pays off to be nice and honest," Prodanovic said, calling upon the Court to release the indictee from custody.

Rasevic asked the Appellate Chamber to "carefully analyse the witnesses' statements".

"By punishing and convicting me you would cause more damage to others than to me. The families of victims and those who were held in the Facility would be harmed the most," Rasevic said.

Savo Todovic's Defence attorneys said, among other things, that it could be "undoubtedly concluded", on the basis of the statements given by witnesses, that the crimes, for which the indictee was found guilty, were actually committed by persons, "who were not controlled by him".

They also spoke about the joint criminal enterprise, claiming that the Trial Chamber rendered its decision "on the basis of a concept, which does not exist in the Criminal Code".

Once again Todovic denied his participation in any crimes, as well as committing any crimes inside the Facility.

"There is not one piece of evidence that could prove that some unlawful acts were committed in the Facility. The Correctional Facility is a facility in which criminal sanctions were implemented. It did not function as a detention camp during the course of the war, although the verdict indicates it did. This is a legally justifiable institution," Todovic said, adding that he was "not interested in being released from custody under such circumstances".
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