International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

War crimes trial postponed due to High Rep's new law in BiH

July 28, 2021

A hearing in a war crimes trial was postponed on Wednesday after lawyers argued that they are not sure whether they could incriminate themselves in defending their clients since the ban on genocide and war crimes denial which Bosnia’s international administrator imposed came into force.

Mane Djuric, Radenko Stanic, Miroslav Kraljevic and Goran Garic stand accused of crimes against humanity committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica between 1992 and 1993. Prosecutors say they were involved in the persecution of Bosniaks which involved murder, illegal imprisonment, kidnapping, sexual violence and other crimes.

At the Wednesday hearing, the lawyer of Djuric, Milos Peric, said that he found out from the media that the law banning genocide and war crimes denial which the High Representative in Bosnia imposed came into force that day.

The outgoing High Representative in BiH who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, Valentin Inzko, used his special powers on Friday to impose amendments to the BiH’s Criminal Code which sanction the glorification of war criminals convicted by final and binding judgments, as well as the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“We, in principle, deny that our clients committed those crimes, and we found out that it (the law) came into force today. I have

Miloš Perić, branilac prvooptuženog Maneta Đurića, kazao je da je iz medija saznao o stupanju na snagu dopuna Krivičnog zakona.

“In principle, we deny that our clients committed these acts, and we learn from the media that it (the law) came into force today. I did not see the original version of the text, nor did my other colleagues,” Peric said, arguing that this new circumstance makes it impossible for him to defend his client.

The lawyer of Stanic, Veljko Civsa, agreed.

“My question is now how far I can ge before I start incriminating myself,” he said.

Civsa argued that the entire country is divided over the new law and that they must study it well in order to determine how to represent the accused. He said that until the lawyers get a guarantee for how they are allowed to do in the proceedings, they cannot even defend the accused.

Lawyer Nenad Rubez said that the Official Gazette of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity will not publish the law Inzko imposed and that lawyers are not familiar with its content and provisions.

“Considering the statements of all four defence teams and the fact that you are not familiar with the content of the Law published in the Official Gazette today, the hearing will not take place,” said Trial Chamber Chair, Dalida Burzic.

The trial will continue on September 8.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/war-crimes-trial-postponed-due-to-high-reps-new-law/

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