News 11 Oct 12

Silos Defence Lawyer Held in Contempt of Court

During the Hadzici war crimes trial, the Trial Chamber ordered the defence lawyer, Dusko Tomic, from the courtroom for “disrespecting the court and the witness”.

Justice Report

During his cross-examination, the witness Slavko Jovicic, a serving MP in the Bosnia and Herzegovina parliament, told the lawyer that he was not examining him but “rather debating with the Trial Chamber and prosecution,” to which Tomic replied he had been  “putting up with his behaviour in the courtroom for four days.”

“You were being tolerated for four days as if you were in a parliament. You are the one giving lessons here,” said Tomic.

The Trial Chamber ordered Tomic, who is defending Nermin Kalember in the case, to leave the courtroom, because he had “lost his temper”, and that he would be penalised for his behaviour. After his lawyer was ordered out, Kalember also asked to leave the court room.

 Minka Kreho, the presiding judge of the Trial Chamber, reassured Kalember, one of eight defendants in the trial, that his defence team would be able to examine the witness during the next session, and Kalember remained in the court room.

Kalember, Mustafa Djelilovic Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, and Serif Mesanovic, are accused of war crimes committed at the Krupa barracks, the Silos detention camp, and the primary school 9th May in Hadzici, near Sarajevo, between 1992 and 1995.

According to the indictment, Nermin Kalember was a guard at the Silos camp. The other defendants were members of the police, the army, and the civil administration in Hadzici.

The prosecution alleges that a large number of Serb civilians and prisoners of war were held illegally at Hadzici, and exposed to inhumane treatment, torture, the deliberate infliction of grave bodily and emotional harm or suffering, and that they were denied the right to a fair trial and subject to forced labour.

 When questioned by the defence lawyer for Fadil Covic, the former police chief in Hadzici, and a member of the crisis headquarters, Jovicic said that he had not seen the defendant in the Silos camp, or had any contact with him.

“I did not see Covic, and I don’t know if he had contact with any others in the camp. You weren’t allowed to communicate with the camp prisoner sitting right beside you, let alone other kinds of communication. I was not in a position even to address a guard,” said the witness.

Speaking about the conditions in Silos, Jovicic said that he did not know whether there was a doctor on site at the time, and that in early August 1992 there was only an improvised bathroom.

“Once a Catholic priest asked the management of the camp to distribute boiled eggs to the prisoners for the holiday, and that was done. However, that was not an initiative of the camp management though, that was the priest’s doing,” said Jovicic.

 The trial continues on October 18.


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