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Furundzija Appeal Hearing.

Bosnian Croat Anto Furundzija contests conviction and sentence for abetting the rape and torture of a young Muslim woman in Vitez in 1993. The defence accuses one of the original trial judges of bias.

The Appeals Chamber heard closing arguments on Thursday (March 2) in Anto Furundzija's appeal against his conviction in December 98 on charges of being a co-perpetrator of torture and aiding and abetting outrages upon personal dignity. (See Tribunal Update No. 105).

Furundzjia was local commander of the Jokers - a special unit of the Croatian Defence Force (HVO) military police. On or about May 18 or 19, 1993, "Witness A" was arrested and taken from her apartment in Vitez by several members of the Jokers. A fellow soldier, "Accused B", and Furundzija were convicted of interrogating "Witness A" at the Joker's headquarters - the Bungalow.

During the interrogation "Witness A" was forced by "Accused B" to undress and remain naked before a large number of soldiers. She was subjected to cruel, human and degrading treatment. "Accused B" rubbed a knife against her inner thigh and stomach, before threatening to put the knife inside her vagina should she fail to tell the truth.

Furundzija received sentences of ten and eight years to run concurrently for his role in the interrogation.

At Thursday's hearing his defence lawyer, Luka Misetic, presented six grounds for appeal against the conviction and the length of the sentence.

Misetic claimed that on the eve of the trial the defence was misinformed about the details of the accusations against Furundzija, thereby denying the accused a fair trial. The defence also argued that with respect to the charges of co-perpetrator of torture, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Furundzija acted in agreement with "Accused B".

The defence also disputed the conclusion that Furundzija aided and abetted the rape. Misetic pointed out that one witness had testified that Furundzija was standing outside the room where the crime was committed.

Furundzija's defence counsel also argued that one of the original judges, Florence Mumba, should be disqualified. Mumba had been a member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which dealt with crimes of rape in former Yugoslavia, and the defence claimed these duties had affected her impartiality.

Finally Misetic said the sentence of ten years imprisonment was "cruel and unusual" for co-participation in torture and abetting a rape.

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