A status conference is held before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at which the parties discuss bail relating to Novak Djukic’s request to defend himself while at liberty.
At the trial of Novak Djukic, who is charged with crimes against civilians, a status conference has been held at which the Trial Chamber considered the Defence’s request for the indictee to be released on bail so that he can defend himself while at liberty.
The Chamber will render its decision at a later stage.
Djukic’s Defence filed the motion in September last year. Since then the Trial Chamber has checked property offered by the indictee as a guarantee, as well as his status in the Republic of Serbia, whose citizenship he has.
Djukic, former Commander of the Ozren Tactical Group with the Republika Srpska Army, is charged with ordering the shelling of Tuzla from Mount Ozren on May 25, 1995, when 71 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the downtown area of the city.
At the status conference the Court gave an opportunity to the State Prosecution to respond to letters submitted by the indictee to the Chamber, in which he explained the outstanding issues pertaining to his property in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
“Unfortunately, I do not have any property in Serbia. The value of my property in Banja Luka is not very big,” Djukic said.
Djukic said that he had reported a location in Serbia as his place of residence because he wanted to “use certain benefits”, including retirement benefits from Serbia, as a former employee of the former Yugoslav National Army, YNA.
“The indictee’s letters imply that he has Serbian citizenship and an identity card issued in that country in 2002. We all know that it is possible to cross the border using the identity card only. Concerning his statement that he does not have any property in Serbia, we have not checked that. We have decided to trust the indictee about it. One can see that the indictee’s connection to Serbia is very strong. This
goes to confirm our suspicion that he might seek to escape,” Prosecutor Mirsad Strika said.
Nebojsa Pantic, the indictee’s Defence attorney, said that Djukic did not have a Serbian passport, adding that he had applied for Serbian citizenship to “determine his status”. At the status conference Pantic handed over to the Trial Chamber the indictee’s Serbian identity card, Bosnian passport and driving license.
“I do not intend to do any stupid things, whether you decide to release me or not, because I have my principles and my honour, as well as moral obligations,” the indictee said.
The Prosecution said that it did not want to give up on its stand, objecting to the Defence’s motion to release the indictee on bail, adding that the Defence had no new evidence to support its position.
Davorin Jukic, Trial Chamber member, said that “the Court should become more rigorous in assessing reasons for ordering indictees into custody”, adding that those reasons become “less persuasive” with the passage of time.