Following the closing arguments in the trial of Alija Osmic for crimes committed against Bosnian Croats in Bugojno, the Bosnian Court has scheduled the passing of the verdict for Wednesday, June 27.
In her closing argument, prosecutor Slavica Terzic said that “it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt” that Osmic, as member of the military police of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, beat up and abused Bosnian Croat prisoners of war in 1993.
“Osmic demonstrated persistence in committing crimes and abuse... Instead of protecting prisoners of war, which was his duty as military policeman, he abused them,” said Terzic.
Before her closing arguments, the prosecutor changed the indictment, and now Osmic is charged with crimes against prisoners of war and not civilians, as initially specified. Terzic justified this change by saying that “all witnesses confirmed that before imprisonment they were members of the Croatian Defence Council.”
Osmic was found guilty in March last year for acting against international humanitarian laws and inflicting severe bodily injuries in the period between July 18, 1993, and March 19, 1994. The crimes occured in the garage of a private house in the settlement of Donjici, the Marxist Centre and the offices of BH Bank.
The verdict was quashed by the Appellate Chamber and a retrial ordered.
In her closing argument, Vasvija Vidovic, the lawyer of the accused, asked the court to acquit her client, emphasising that the evidence in the case was “contradictory”.
While the defence accepts that Osmic was present at the places where in the summer of 1993 members of the Croatian Defence Council were kept prisoners, it insists that it has not been proven that he participated in their abuse.
When referencing claims from the indictment that Osmic beat up Vlatko Kapetanovic, Mario Glisic and Ivica Keskic in the offices of the Marxist Centre, his lawyer said that witnesses gave “diametrically opposed statements”.
“It turns out that Osmic had to be in three different places at the same time in order to be able to beat three people simultaneously,” emphasised Vidovic.
The lawyer added that, if the Appellate Chamber finds Osmic guilty, it should take into consideration a series of extenuating circumstances, and use the law of the former Yugoslavia, which in her opinion, is easier on the perpetrators than the current Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The context in which the alleged crimes were committed is one of great extenuating circumstance. At the time, severe crimes were committed against Bosniaks in Bugojno,” said Vidovic.