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7 March 2014
News

Witness Suffering from PTSD

Boris Sekulic BIRN BiH Bijeljina
Testifying before the District Court in Bijeljina at the trial for crimes committed in detention camps in Ugljevik, a court expert in medical issues says that Stjepan Mrkic cannot be invited to testify, because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
Medical court expert Vasika Draskovic said that, on the basis of medical documentation, one could see that Mrkic suffered from PTSD and personality changes, that he was subjected to psychiatric treatment due to that and that he was using very strong medicines.

“He was declared a disabled person with limited working capabilities, because he was constantly in fear, isolated and alienated from his environment. All those permanent personality changes represent a mental illness caused by a tragic event that happened to him,” Draskovic said.

She explained that any reminiscence of the detention camp or war might cause an escalation of “negative and unhealthy emotions and lead to deterioration and change of the witness’ condition, in which case his testimony would not be valid.”

The District Prosecution in Bijeljina included, in the case file, a written statement given by Stjepan Mrkic to the Cantonal Prosecution in Tuzla in 2005. However, the Defence wanted Mrkic to be examined in the courtroom.

Defence attorney Dejan Bodirogic requested court expert Draskovic to confirm whether witness Mrkic suffered from PTSD when he gave the mentioned statement in 2005.

Draskovic said that she could not confirm that, because there was no medical documentation covering that period, but she said that there was a possibility that the PTSD was present in some form.

The District Prosecution in Bijeljina charges Ostoja Minic, Oliver Rodic and Velimir Popovic with having taken Croat and Bosniak detainees from the detention camps in Stari and Novi Ugljevik in 1992 in order to examine them. It alleges that they beat them up and tortured them on those occasions.

The presentation of evidence was completed with the presentation of court expert Draskovic’s findings. The District Prosecutor and Defence are due to present their closing statements at the next hearing scheduled for March 28.
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