Female ex-fighter Elfeta Veseli and former Bosnian Army unit commander Sakib Halilovic called on the Bosnian court to acquit them of involvement in the killing of a 12-year-old Serb boy in 1992.
In closing arguments at the Bosnian state court on Friday, defence lawyers for Sakib Halilovic and Elfeta Veseli urged the court not to convict them of involvement in the killing of the 12-year-old boy in the north-eastern Zvornik municipality in the summer of 1992.
According to the charges, Veseli killed the Serb boy on an undetermined date in the second half of July or first half of August 1992 in the village of Bajrici-Novo Selo, out of revenge for the murder of her father.
Halilovic, former commander of the Sabotage Squad of the Bosnian Army’s Liplje-Kamenica Joint Units, was accused of witnessing the murder of the 12-year-old boy but failing to undertake necessary and reasonable action to punish the perpetrator of the crime.
Halilovic’s defence lawyer Lejla Covic argued that the prosecution had not proved that he had command responsibility and therefore could not be held responsible.
“In these criminal proceedings, there was not a single piece of material evidence that Halilovic was designated for, selected for or appointed to a commanding position,” Covic said.
She added there was no evidence of the existence of a unit commanded by Halilovic.
“The only thing the prosecution has managed to prove is that Halilovic and a group of soldiers came to Bajrici-Novo Selo, and that is where the proof ends. No witnesses said he was the commander, but that he led the way, that he was at the head of the group,” Covic said.
Veseli’s defence lawyer Mirna Delalic said that her client was never a member of any military unit and never participated in the war.
“The only reason she came from Croatia in April 1992 was to find her father, who, as it turned out later on, had been brutally killed. When she found out that her father had been killed, she decided to return and leave the country again,” Delalic said.
Delalic argued that the allegations that Veseli killed the boy out of revenge for her father’s death were not valid.
She insisted that the defendant found out about her father’s death after the boy had gone missing without trace.
The defence lawyer also said that it was clear from the evidence that she was in Cerska, not Bajrici, in July 1992.
She argued that not all pieces of evidence were collected during the investigation, and that witness testimonies were inconclusive.
“Nobody can be punished on the basis of ‘hearsay’ evidence, retellings by third parties, without substantiation,” Delalic added.
Addressing the court, Veseli said that the testimonies incriminating her were all “fabrications”, and that she found it very hard to be accused of being a “revenger”.
The verdict will be handed down on April 22.