The Bosnian State Court has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of a convicted war criminal charged with prison escape while serving his sentence, after he failed to turn up in the court.
After Radovan Stankovic refused to attend a plea hearing for the second time, the Bosnian State Court entered on his behalf that he pleads not guilty to fleeing from the Foca prison, while serving 20-year sentence for war crimes committed in the town of Foca in 1992.
Stankovic is the only convicted war criminal to have escaped prison, and this is the first indictment and trial for fleeing prison in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Judge Hasija Masovic said that Stankovic would be informed about all future hearings and that he could come to court in case he changed his opinion.
Stankovic’s lawyer Milenko Vojo Radovic said at the previous hearing that his client told him that he had failed to appear before the court because he considered the indictment false.
In March 2007 Stankovic, former Bosnian Serb army soldier was found guilty of war crimes in Foca, including rape of female prisoners, some of whom were minors.
On May 25, he escaped the Foca prison where he was serving his sentence. After nearly five years on the run he was arrested on January 21 this year and returned to the same prison.
Ranko Stankovic, Radovan’s brother, was sentenced to two years in prison for assisting him in his escape, while he was being taken to an alleged dental exam.
Ranka Dragicevic and Brankica Davidovic, a dental practitioner and a nurse, also plead guilty to forging documents which helped Stankovic escape and were sentenced to six months in prison each.
The prosecution also charged several Foca prison guards with helping Stankovic escape, but they were found not guilty.
Stankovic’s was one of the very first cases to be tried before the Bosnian State court, after it was transferred from the Hague Tribunal, ICTY.