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15 April 2016
News

Vares Wartime Rape Convict Demands Retrial

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Defence lawyers for Muhidin Basic, who was convicted of raping a woman in Vares in 1994, have asked the court to quash the verdict and order a retrial because they have found new evidence.

Former security officer Basic’s lawyer Kerim Celik told a hearing at the Bosnian state court on Friday that the defence had acquired a wartime diary written by Mustafa Mujezinovic that would exonerate his client.

Celik said the diary written by Mujezinovic, who died in 1997, described exactly what happened on the day the crime committed.

He said Mujezinovic wrote that he drove the victim, who was given the codename A to protect her identity, to Vares that day, showing that her testimony to the court was untrue.

“The diary entries indicate that the factual status [of the case] has never been correctly determined before this court. Therefore, we have never found out what actually happened,” Celik told the hearing.

“By presenting this new piece of evidence, we shall get answers to many unclarified questions and by presenting new pieces of material evidence and re-examining witnesses, we would prove that the story was made up by person A and that my client was wrongfully convicted,” Celik said.

In April 2014 the state court’s appeals chamber sentenced Muhidin Basic and another man, Mirsad Sijak, to seven years in prison each for raping the victim in Vares.

At that time Basic was the chief of the war section of the State Security Service in Olovo, while Sijak was a military policeman with the 122nd Light Brigade of the Bosnian Army.

But prosecutor Edin Muratbegovic said it was not clear to him why the diary should be considered authentic, considering the fact that it did not describe the event that caused Basic’s conviction at all.

The court will give its decision at a later stage.

Also on Friday, the first witnesses were examined at the trial of Bozidar Perisic and Vinko Zoranovic, who are charged with having participated in the persecution of the Bosniak population from the Rogatica area, as well as murders, rape and unlawful detentions, from May 1992 to the end of 1993.

The prosecution witnesses said they fled their houses in 1992 after having received a call to surrender.

Witness Hamid Mehmedovic said he lived with his parents and sister in the village of Gracanica in the Rogatica municipality until the attack on June 19 that year.“We heard a voice inviting citizens via a megaphone to surrender and saying their safety was guaranteed,” the witness said.

“Three of us who could walk tried to reach the centre [of Rogatica] by foot. Fierce shooting had already begun. We walked in some sort of panic, hopelessness. We didn’t know what to do or where to go,” the witness said.

However the witness said he did not see any soldiers.

According to the charges, Perisic was a member of the First Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, while Zoranovic worked for the public security station in Rogatica.

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