Monday, February 4, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 4,2008) - The Bosnian State Prosecutor's request for a one-month custody order for Croatian war criminal Anto Kovac has been approved by the Bosnian State Court.

Kovac, a former member of the fascist paramilitary formations of the Croatians living in Bosnia (HVO) is suspected of committing crimes in the central Bosnian town of Vitez in 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.

The Bosnian State prosecutor considers that Croatian war criminal Anto Kovac should be held in custody on the grounds that the suspect might attempt to escape and interfere with the criminal proceedings by influencing potential witnesses.

The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested Croatian war criminal Kovac on January 30, 2008, on the suspicion that he committed war crime against Bosnian civilians in Vitez area,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.

"Only after the arrest has the suspect become aware of the severity of the crimes charged upon him and the potential punishment. As a consequence, he will now surely be motivated to escape or hide, which he can easily do as he possesses Croatian citizenship," said the Bosnian State Prosecutor Mirko Lecic, adding that Croatian war criminal has a Croatian passport.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor also stressed that the grounded suspicion that Kovac committed the war crime was based on statements given by witnesses and material evidence gathered by the Prosecution during the investigation.

"The witnesses live in Vitez and its surroundings, just like the suspect. There exists a possibility that he will try to put pressure on these witnesses and generate fear," Lecic said, adding that the Prosecution intended to examine "a maximum" of eight new witnesses.

The Croatian war criminal's attorney Nikica Grzic objected to the custody order request, claiming that the reasons cited by the Bosnian State Prosecutor "did not exist" and imposing less severe measures, instead of custody, would bring the same results.

"Fifteen years have passed since the alleged commitment of the criminal offence. He has had plenty of time to put pressure on the witnesses. It is true that he has Croatian citizenship, but it should not be a discriminating fact for him. He cannot evade the criminal processing by escaping. Croatia may not extradite its citizens, but it does process them," Grzic said.

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