English

Final verdict: All the accused in the case of Kaludjerski Laz freed

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In the explanation, the court has stated that the accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence. The attorney of the victims’ families, Velija Muric, confirmed the information that the judgment was final in a statement for daily Dan. He said that this process and the indictment filed by the prosecution had been doomed in advance.

The Retired Colonel, Predrag Strugar, and seven former members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces were acquitted of charges of war crimes against the civilians which, according to the indictment, had been committed in Kaludjerski Laz in the spring of 1999.

They were charged with inhumane acting against the civilian population of Albanian nationality, thus violating the international law.

The Court added that the allegations had not been proven. Momcilo Barjaktarovic, Petar Labudovic, Aco Knezevic, Branislav Radic, Miro Bojovic, Vladimir Djuraskovic and Boro Novakovic were also acquitted.

In the original indictment, they were charged with the death of 23 people, but that number was reduced to 15. During the proceedings it was proven that the death of eight persons had occurred before the crime.

“Twenty two persons were killed in the area of ​​Rozaje then. The prosecutor treated 16 of them as victims of crimes, although the remaining persons were also victims of crime,” Mr Muric said.

He added that the crime was committed at a time when the area was controlled by the Armed Forces of Serbia and Montenegro.

“I can notice that police and prosecutors have not taken any action in discovering the real perpetrators of the crime for five years. Thus, there are victims on one side, and on the other side we have no perpetrators. Another in a series of illogical claims of the indictment was that the unit commander, Predrag Strugar, was accused of ordering the killing, which is not true. He commanded the unit that was killing, which immediately meant it was a command responsibility. He could be accused of poor command and not of having ordered a military unit to open fire on civilians. Then the prosecutor completely randomly named 12 officers. He immediately gave up prosecuting 4 of them, although he knew from the very beginning that they had nothing to do with it,” Mr Muric said.

He added that precisely those things were the reason why he did not want to attend the trial and, as he said, participate in a farce.

He said that on this occasion he had met with the Supreme State Prosecutor, Ivica Stankovic.

“I submitted the analysis of the case in writing to him and I expect his reaction, as well as his team’s respond,” Mr Muric said.

He said that indictments not sufficiently substantiated and the lack of practice of international humanitarian law were only partially the cause of impunity.

“I certify with arguments that the charges were raised more as a formality, and less with ambitions to legally justify their alleged intention,” Mr Muric concluded.

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