Jezik / Language:
4 December 2015

Verdict in Zelenika Trial Expected Next Week

Sanela Gakovic BIRN BiH Mostar

Presenting its closing statement at the Ivan Zelenika trial, the cantonal prosecution of Mostar called upon the trial chamber to find the defendant guilty. The defense called for a verdict of release.

Zelenika (also known as Zela), a former member of the Croatian Defense Council, has been charged with physically and mentally abusing a prisoner named Almir Lalic, while other prisoners from the Heliodrom detention camp worked on Santiceva Street in Mostar in November 1993.

He has also been charged with the severe physical abuse of Muhamed Lalic in his apartment in Mostar on the night of May 6 or 7, 1994.

The cantonal court of Mostar has scheduled the verdict for December 9.

Cantonal prosecutor Darko Zovko presented his closing statement at today’s hearing.

“Almir Lalic described what happened on Santiceva Street in detail. Witnesses for the prosecution and defense gave the same description. Also, witnesses Vildana Tipura and Ifeta Lalic proved the content of statements given by the deceased Muhamed Lalic in their entirety,” Zovko said.

“Therefore, all of the prosecution’s evidence is clear and proven. We’re calling upon the court to find the defendant guilty and to sentence him by taking into account all of the circumstances under which the crime was committed,” he added.

Defense attorney Branko Karadeglic described the testimony of injured parties Almir Lalic and Muhamed Lalic as “unacceptable” and “unconvincing.”

“The prosecution’s evidence hasn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. I therefore propose that the court acquit the defendant of the charges, due to a lack of evidence,” Karadeglic said.

Zelenika said he defended Bosnia and Herzegovina and his homeland, Croatia, as a member of the Croatian Defense Council during the war. He described the proceedings against him as politically fabricated.

“I am requesting that the court be reasonable and pronounce a fair decision,” Zelenika said.

Prior to the presentation of closing statements, expert witness Zdenko Ostojic presented his findings regarding Muhamed Lalic’s injuries on behalf of the defense. He said his findings were based on medical documentation referring to Lalic’s stay at a hospital from May 7-18, 1994.

“My findings are based on a discharge letter from the hospital in Mostar dated May 18, 1994. This letter is the only major finding. There are no x-ray images. The discharge letter says he had a fracture of two ribs, which is classified as a severe bodily injury,” Ostojic said.

Ostojic said such injuries could be caused by a person falling down stairs or being hit on the back with a wooden bar or baton.

He said a blow to the head or the face with a bottle would have caused deeper injuries. He said the discharge letter indicated that no such wounds were treated.
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