News 23 May 14

Court Files Destroyed in Bosnian Floods

The recent floods have seriously damaged several Bosnian judicial institutions, destroying files, evidence and archives.

Justice Report
Photo by BIRN

The floods in Bosnia have damaged judicial institutions in Doboj, Prijedor, Bijeljina, Kakanj, Sanski Most and Gradacac, as a result of which trials will have to be put on hold in some places.

In Doboj, which is one of the worst affected towns, the President of the District Court in Doboj Dusko Ninkovic said huge damage had been done to the files in the Court and Prosecution building.

“We are doing all we can to save the flooded documents on the ground floor, which was worst hit by the surge," he told BIRN.

"We took the files outside to dry them, and we took parts upstairs, because they are extremely important.”

Thankfully, most of the files regarding war crimes cases were on the upper floors, he added.

Water has completely flooded the ground floor, the basement and parts of the first floor of the Doboj court. Employees are working on clearing up the damage to the building, which is now covered in mud.

Photo by BIRN

Trials in Doboj will not take place until the sanitation of the building is complete, and emergency hearings, such as detentions, will temporarily transfer to Teslic and other nearby towns. Once dried, the files will be taken to a safer place.

“The damage is huge, we don’t know how much we can save,” Ninkovic continued.

A policeman from Doboj said the floodwater had destroyed many buildings.

“It was horrific ...We saw water running in the streets. Within 15 minutes, you couldn’t get anywhere,” he told BIRN.

Representatives of other judicial institutions said they have yet to tot up the extent of the damage done to their files.

Members of Bosnia's High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, USAID and the European Union have visited judicial institution in flooded towns to determine the damage done in Doboj, Prijedor, Bijeljina, Kakanj, Sanski Most and Gradacac.

“Although the situation in Posavina region remains critical, we have information from the Municipal court in Orasje that the building and people are not threatened there. However, they will not be working for the time being, because people cannot come to work and the roads are blocked,” the HJPC told BIRN.

The Chief Prosecutor for the Posavina Canton, Luka Dabic, told BIRN that although their buildings were not flooded, the situation was critical.

“Everything is safe for now. We put all the documents and servers on the upper floors,” Dabic said.

The judicial police in Orasje told BIRN that police were out in the field, working to defend the town from more floods.

The floods have claimed 21 lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina so far.

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