Sasa Dunovic, former member of the Army of Republika Srpska charged with crimes in Kljuc, failed to appear at a plea hearing, having sent a message through his lawyer that he “does not trust the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
Saban Maksumic, the pre-trial judge, noted that Dunovic, who has Serbian citizenship, received the indictment and subpoena through international legal assistance.
Dunovic’s court-appointed defence lawyer, Milan Romanic, confirmed that his client received the subpoena, but said he had declined to appear before the court because he did not trust the Bosnian court.
“My client believes he is a collateral damage in the trial of Vinko Kondic. Therefore, factually speaking, he is on the run,” said Romanic.
Judge Maksumic said that Dunovic was therefore to be considered a fugitive from the law and instructed the Prosecution to declare its possible further steps in order to ensure his presence at the trial.
The indictment says that Dunovic, former member of the 17th Light Infantry Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, together with other soldiers, policemen and paramilitary units, took part in systematic attacks on Bosniak and Croat civilians in Kljuc.
It alleges that on June 1, 1992, he entered the undefended village of Prhovo in the municipality of Kljuc and participated in the expulsion of the population from their homes, as well as taking part in the murder of three men.
The bodies were later exhumed from the mass graves at “Ciganska dolina [“Gypsy Valley”] near the village of Prhovo, the State Prosecutor's Office said.
Vinko Kondic, former Chief of the Public Safety Station in Kljuc, was originally charged along with Marko Adamovic and Bosko Lukic for crimes against non-Serb population in Kljuc in the period from May to end of 1992.
But in October 2010, proceedings against him were separated after forensic experts established that he was not capable of attending the trial.
Under the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first instance verdict, Bosko Lukic and Marko Adamovic were acquitted last May of charges for crimes against humanity in the Kljuc region.
Serbia does not extradite its own citizens, which is why it is unlikely that Dunovic will be delivered to the Bosnian authorities for prosecution.
In order to solve the problem of non-extradition, the Bosnian and Serbian prosecutions last year agreed a protocol of cooperation on the prosecution of war crimes suspects, which anticipated that war crimes would in future be prosecuted in those countries where the suspect or the accused reside.
However, the signing of the protocol was blocked last November by the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which said it alone had the authority to sign international treaties and that the Bosnian prosecution could not sign such a document by itself. The signature of the protocol has been put on hold ever since.