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10 November 2015

Verdict in Odzak Rape Case Expected in Late November

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

In their closing statements, the defense teams of Marijan Brnjic, Martin Barukcic, Pavo Glavas and Ilija Glavas called upon the court to acquit their clients of charges of wartime rape in the Odzak area in 1992.

Marijan Brnjic, Martin Barukcic, Pavo Glavas and Ilija Glavas, all former members of the 102nd Brigade of the Croatian Defense Council, have been charged with committing multiple rapes of Serb women in the Odzak area from May to August 1992.

Brnjic’s defense attorney, Rifat Konjic, said his client wasn’t a member of the Croatian Defense Council. He said at the beginning of the war, his client was a member of the Territorial Defense in Odzak. He said this had been supported by material evidence and witness testimony.

Konjic also said that Brnjic wasn’t in Odzak during the time period covered by the indictment. Konjic said Brnjic was in Germany as of May 1992, when his alleged crimes were committed. Konjic said this was also confirmed by defense witnesses.

“Members of the Croatian Army were present in the territory of the municipality of Odzak and committed crimes,” Konjic said. Konjic proposed that the state court acquit his client due to inaccurate witness testimony.

Presenting his closing statement, Brnjic said the case against him and the other defendants was fabricated.

“Only an insane or sick person could have done what the witnesses described. I am neither. I was a reputable citizen, happily married, a father of two...What could have been my motive to enter a room as the seventh person in a row,” Brnjic said. Brnjic swore that he hadn’t committed the crimes described in the indictment.

Anto Lukac, Martin Barukcic’s defense attorney, said he didn’t deny that his client served the Croatian Defense Council or that rapes occurred in the Odzak area, but maintained that his client didn’t participate in any acts of wartime rape. Lukac said witness testimony and material evidence indicated that Barukcic wasn’t in Odzak from June 1-8, 1992. He said his client went to the island of Vir in Croatia to pick up his family during that time. Lukac said his client had a firm alibi proving that he wasn’t present when injured parties Milica Djekic and Ljubica Lesic were raped.

Lukac said testimony given by witness and injured party Joka Goranovic was discursive and untrue. Goranovic, the aunt of Barukcic’s wife, accused him of raping her.

“Joka Goranovic said she would testify provided that protective measures were lifted, because she wanted her testimony to be public, so that the media would condemn the defendants...She visited his house up until his arrest. What could have possibly made him rape his own mother-in-law’s sister?” Lukac said.

In her closing statement, Branka Praljak, Pavo Glavas’ defense attorney, described a state court decision which terminated custody measures against her client. She said this indicated that there was no grounded suspicion that he was in Bosnia and Herzegovina when his alleged crimes were committed. Praljak asked the court to hand down a verdict of release, and said no new pieces of evidence had been presented against her client.

“Luckily for him, he saved documents referring to his work in Switzerland, which may save him. Otherwise, we don’t believe this court would trust our subjective evidence as much,” Praljak said.

Senad Bilic, Ilija Glavas’ defense attorney, presented a series of verdicts handed down by domestic and foreign courts. He said the state prosecution failed to prove the general elements of the crime and the existence of an armed conflict.

Bilic said his client couldn’t have been a member of the Croatian Defense Council, which was formed in September 1992.

Bilic said the injured parties repeatedly mentioned “the Glavas brothers together, like a mantra.” He said Pavo Glavas had an irrefutable alibi, which contradicted all other testimony.

Bilic also commented on the identification of the defendants in the courtroom. He said the witnesses had been informed on the seating arrangement in advance and said he “was lucky to have worn a robe.” He said Ilija Glavas wasn’t mentioned in witness statements. He said the case was fabricated by the state prosecution and the Association of Victims from Odzak.

“The prosecutor was threatened by an insider the whole time, even when decisions on the extension of custody measures were made. The custody measures were extended, but the insider has never appeared,” Bilic said. He said the court had acquitted Ilija Juric, who was charged with raping Milica Djekic, because of her imprecise testimony and lack of evidence.

All of the defense teams pointed to differences between testimonies given by witnesses Milica Djekic, Ljubica Lesic, Zorka Lesic, Ostoja Ninkovic and other witnesses for the prosecution.

Prosecutor Milorad Barasin commented on the defense’s closing statements. Barasin said the case was not fabricated and said that everybody, including the media, was against the state prosecution. The trial chamber scheduled the pronouncement of the verdict for November 26.

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