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15 April 2008

Round table on plea agreements practice in BiH

BIRN - Justice Report has presented its work at the Sarajevo Conference on the use of plea agreements in war crime cases.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe BiH, Rule of Law Initiative in cooperation with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) organised a round table on "Plea agreements in war crime cases in BiH" in Sarajevo on April 15.

BiH Court President Meddzida Kreso addressed the participants. She said in addition to certain risks, the plea agreements also bring some advantages, such as saving time and money, avoiding pressure on the courts and exposing victims to repeated traumatic experiences.

Seida Karabasic, representative of the "Izvor" Association from Prijedor, said victims do understand the importance of plea agreements, but such agreements should not be concluded "unless they involve honesty and repentance."

Justice Report Editor Nidzara Ahmetasevic took part in the same panel discussion. She noted that the local media have paid little attention to the plea agreements, which have been concluded before the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of BiH, up to now.

According to Ahmetasevic, the lack of interest by the media comes from the fact that the plea agreements contain an admission of personal guilt, but they do not point to the responsibility of accessories nor do they cover the broad wartime context in the regions from which the persons, who admitted guilt, came from.

The meeting brought together prosecutors, judges and lawyers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, experts from The Hague Prosecution and Defence Department, as well as many representatives of international organisations and embassies in BiH.

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