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COURTSIDE: Ahmici Case

Tribunal debates pre-trial release bid by Bosnian Croat accused
By Mirna Jancic

The court is to decide whether to grant pre-trial release to Pasko Ljubicic, a Bosnian Croat HVO military police chief accused of the massacre of Muslim civilians in Ahmici in spring 1993 and other crimes in central Bosnia.

Disputing provisional release, the prosecution described the Croatian government's guarantee that Ljubicic will return for the trial as "limited", because the authorities had admitted they "cannot guarantee his return unless they keep him in some kind of detention".

The Croat authorities had expressed reservations because, after issuing their own arrest warrant in an attempt to put him on trial for the alleged crimes, Ljubicic went into hiding for 14 months.

The accused said he did so as he had little hope of getting a fair trial after being “demonised” by the Croatian media. He surrendered to The Hague after the tribunal revealed its own indictment last November, allegedly because he had more faith in the international court.

After the court debated the difference between keeping him in the Scheveningen detention unit or granting him pre-trial release so he could be held in a Croat prison, the prosecution argued he should be kept in The Hague as conditions there were preferable to those he would find in Croatia.

The defence then suggested he be placed under house arrest in his home town of Zadar, where police could be placed in the same building and mount a round-the clock-watch if needed.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor.

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