Jezik / Language:
7 March 2016

Zmijanjac Trial Begins after Guilt Admission Agreement Fails

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

The trial of Dragoja Zmijanjac began with a reading of the indictment and the presentation of introductory statements by the defense and the prosecution. Zmijanjac has been charged with crimes against humanity in the Prijedor area.

Dragoja Zmijanjac, also known as Zmicko, is a former member of an unidentified formation. Zmijanjac has been charged with participating in a widespread and systematic attack by the Bosnian Serb Army in the Prijedor area from April to September 1992. The attack was allegedly targeted at the local Croat and Bosniak population with the aim of persecuting them on religious, ethnic and political grounds.

He has been charged with forcing Halil Dedic out of his house on July 24, 1992 and killing him with an automatic rifle. According to the charges, one person ran up to Zmijanjac and asked him why he had killed his neighbour. Zmijanjac allegedly responded by saying, “All Turks should be killed.”

On July 27, 1992 Zmijanjac allegedly went to a house where Halid Dedic, the son of Halil Dedic, was hiding. He allegedly threatened to kill his family as well as Milena Kragulj.

“Halid Dedic reported his father’s murder to police. After that he was taken to the Trnopolje detention camp where he was held for two months. He was then deported from the municipality of Prijedor,” the indictment alleges.

In his introductory statement, prosecutor Izet Odobasic said he would prove through the examination of eight witnesses, one expert witness and the presentation of material evidence that the defendant deliberately participated in a widespread and systematic attack, killing one person.

“The eyewitnesses identified the defendant during the attack, because they knew him from before,” Odobasic said.

He said that prior to the Bosnian Serb Army’s attack, Prijedor was a multi-ethnic municipality. He said after the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) took over the municipality, the local non-Serb population was intimidated, expelled and taken to detention camps, where they were abused and killed.

“We shall ask the court to admit facts determined in verdicts handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)...Through those facts we shall prove the establishment of the SDS crisis committee, as well as military and paramilitary units composed of Serb citizens,” Odobasic said.

Defense attorney Nebojsa Pantic said he did not deny that Prijedor was a multi-ethnic community before the war. Pantic said he would accept the established facts, but he would prove they were not related to his client.

“My client is married to a Muslim. He lives in harmony with her and her family. This indictment should have been referred to the entity judiciary. Why is an individual case classified as crime against humanity? What is the subject of this trial?” Pantic asked.

Pantic said the defense had given up on the agreement it had been preparing. He said he would prove that what the prosecutor wrote in the indictment was incorrect. He said the defense plans to examine at least three witnesses.

Zmijanjac said he denied the indictment and that he wasn’t the perpetrator of the murder.

The first prosecution witnesses will be examined at a hearing scheduled for March 21.

comments powered by Disqus