After the defence presented its closing argument at the trial of Jasko Gazdic who is charged with wartime rapes in Foca, the Bosnian State court has announced it will pass the verdict on October 31.
Gazdic, a Bosniak who fought for the Bosnian Serb army, is charged with raping several Bosniak women, including two girls aged 12, who were imprisoned in the Partizan sports hall in Foca between early April 1992 and late March 1993.
“I have raped no one. I am not a maniac or a paedophile. I may have been present during some uncomfortable situations, but that was only because I had to,” said Gazdic.
The defence lawyer, Dusko Tomic, said that he “deeply believes” that his client is innocent, and asked the court to free him of all charges and release him from custody.
Tomic said that although he is sure the rapes in Foca did take place, “Jasko Gazdic took no part in them”.
“Never before in my career did I face such a difficult indictment... That is why I called the Association ‘Women – Victims of war’ to follow the trial, but no one came. My client assured me that he committed no criminal act even though he is facing such horrific accusations,” said Tomic.
The defence also objected to the fact that although the indictment contains names of all alleged rape and torture victims, not all of them were called to testify.
“There are also three women tortured that were not called before this court. How can their names be a part of the indictment and they are not even witnesses? My client cannot be found guilty of taking part in those crimes,” said Tomic.
The defence highlighted that in statements that the women gave to the Association ‘Women – Victims of war’ Gazdic’s name was either not mentioned at all or only sporadically, saying this proves that some witnesses changed their testimonies.
Tomic also accused the presiding judge, Vesna Jesenkovic, of being biased.
The presiding judge said that such criticisms would not affect the verdict.
At the previous hearing, in its closing statement, the prosecution has asked for severe punishment for Gazdic saying that there were no extenuating circumstances, but there were a whole series of aggravating ones, given that some of the victims were 12 years old at the time.