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COURTSIDE: Visegrad Trial

Vasiljevic defence asks for acquittal

The defence of Mitar Vasiljevic last week closed its case by calling on judges to acquit their client.

Vladimir Domazet, defence counsel for Vasiljevic, who is charged with multiple murders in Visegrad, eastern Bosnia, said the accusations had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution's closing arguments were presented the week before.

In the six-month trial, the prosecution tried to prove he participated in the murder of five Bosniaks on the banks of Drina river on June 7, 1992 and took an active part in the burning to death of more than 65 civilians, mostly elderly, women and children, in Visegrad's Pionirska street, a week later. The prosecution asked for a sentence of 25 years.

The defence said an alibi for the second accusation in the form of a hospital report confirmed Vasiljevic fell from a horse and was hospitalised on the day of the arson.

Domazet said a number of prosecution witnesses clearly intended to falsely accuse Vasiljevic, pointing out that while some claimed the defendant brought them to the house - which was then burnt - other survivors said they only saw the accused after reaching the building.

The defendant insisted he took no part in the riverside killings and was only present by chance. His cousin, Milan Lukic, still at large, is a co-accused in both cases of multiple killings.

The judgement of David Hunt of Australia and two ad-litem judges, Ivana Janu of the Czech Republic and Chikako Taya of Japan, is not expected for several months, owing to the fact that they will be taken up with other cases.

Vjera Bogati is an IWPR special correspondent at The Hague and a journalist with SENSE News Agency.

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