NASER ORIC TRIAL ENDS – FAIRNESS QUESTIONED
NASER ORIC TRIAL ENDS – WAS IT FAIR?
“This has not been an easy case,” said Judge Agius.
Mr. Oric faces charges relating to his alleged responsibility for looting and wanton destruction of Serb property in villages around Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993, and for murders and abuse of 12 Serb prisoners held in the town’s prison during the same period.
In the six days set aside for closing arguments, prosecutors called for an 18-year sentence. The defence said he should be acquitted on all counts.
The prosecution has tried to prove that Mr. Oric controlled fighters said to have been personally responsible for the crimes in question. The defence has dismissed such claims, saying that at the time their client was a commander “only on paper”.
Mr. Oric also took the opportunity to briefly address the court at the end of closing arguments, saying, “I trust your honours, and I trust you will reach the right decision.”
Fairness of Mr. Oric’s Trial Questioned
There have been allegations that the tribunal has been biased against Mr. Oric.
A number of witnesses testified that Oric was aware of his impending indictment and told the commanders of SFOR in the Tuzla that he would surrender peacefully, but SFOR chose to arrest him forcefully in spite of this.
On July, 25 2003 the tribunal denied his appeal for a provisional release, even though it was clear he was no flight risk.
Many of the 52 witnesses that the prosecution called were members of the Bosnian Serb Army who participated in the seige and massacre of 8,100 Srebrenica Bosniaks and as such are untrustworthy.
The prosecution has also been accused of providing forged documents which three expert witnesess failed to authenticate, and has also been warned but not sancioned for witholding exculpatory evidence.
The judges at one point attempted to reduce the time that defence witnesses were allowed to testify, until an appeals chamber overturned this decision.
There is also outrage at the 18 year sentence that the prosecution has asked for.
Mr Oric is charged with failing to prevent and punish his subordinates for allegedlly killing 12 people.
Drazen Erdemovic, was a Serb soldier serving in Srebrenica and although he confessed to killing 70 people during the Srebrenica massacre he only received a 5 year sentance.