The absence of an agreement that would allow Bosnia and Croatia to transfer war crimes cases is hampering the work of the Bosnian local courts.
A plea hearing that was due to be held before the District Court in Doboj has had to be postponed for the third time because the defendant, Luka Jozic, a Croatian citizen, was not present.
The District Prosecution in Doboj has charged Jozic, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, with having physically and mentally abused detained Serb civilians, leading to the death of some of the detainees, and with the rape and abuse of female prisoners in the Bosanski Brod area.
Jozic’s lawyer, Jadranko Hadzisejdic, said that he receives all of his information from Jozic’s brother, as he is yet to meet his client.
“According to his brother, Jozic spends most of the time in Germany. He came to Slavonski Brod recently for some medical tests,” said Hadzisejdic, presenting the court with his client’s medical documentation from Slavonski Brod.
Hadzisejdic said that he is considering withdrawing from the case because he is unable to meet his client.
He proposed that the District Court to consider transferring the case to competent courts in the Republic of Croatia.
The District Prosecutor, Izudin Berberovic, said that the prosecution is standing by its earlier proposal that that an international arrest warrant be issued for Jozic, and that Jozic should be held in custody for one a month.
Judge Dragan Rulofs said that it was not possible to transfer the case to Croatian judiciary.
The State prosecutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have signed an agreement to share evidence in war crimes cases. However, Bosnia and Croatia have not signed a bilateral agreement under which they can transfer entire war crimes cases for prosecution.
“We sent an inquiry to the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina and found out that the Republic of Croatia has still not responded to a request to submit the court summons to the indictee. Therefore, an international warrant cannot be issued,” Judge Rulofs explained.
The judge said that the date of the next hearing would be set at a later date, when the court will make a final decision about whether to issue an international arrest warrant.