The Appeals Chamber of the Bosnian State Court will give their verdict on Djordjislav Askraba, who is charged with crimes in Kalinovik, on Wednesday, April 18.
In its closing arguments, Askraba’s defence team asked the court to acquit their client, saying that the prosecution had failed to prove that he was guilty of forced disappearances and the murder of Bosniak civilians, who were led away from the Gunpowder Storage camp in Kalinovik in 1992.
“The evidence proves that Askraba did not make decisions concerning the imprisonment of civilians, that he did not have any authority over their guards, or jurisdiction over the conditions of their imprisonment, and that he could not have any power over those people who were leaving the Gunpowder Storage camp,” said Radivoje Lazarevic, the defendant’s lawyer.
Lazarevic added that Askraba could not be held responsible for the actions of his superiors, who had given the orders that led to the prisoners being taken away from the camp.
“If Askraba is convicted of such actions, such a verdict would support the principle of collective guilt and not individual guilt,” said the lawyer.
Askraba is charged, as a commander of the guards and acting warden of the Gunpowder Storage camp, with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise against Bosniaks in Kalinovik.
The indictment states that Askraba is guilty of using civilians as forced labour, as well as forced disappearances of imprisoned civilians.
Lazarevic said in his closing arguments that Askraba was a “common policeman and guard” in 1992, and that he worked in the Gunpowder Storage camp to “avoid going to the frontline”.
The first instance verdict acquitted Askraba of crimes in Kalinovik, but the Appellate Chamber overturned the verdict and ordered a retrial, which began in October last year.
In its closing arguments on April 5, the prosecution requested that Askraba be found guilty of crimes committed in the territory of Kalinovik.
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