Belgrade court acquits Orahovac KLA member

Sinan Morina, charged with crimes against Serb civilians in Opteruša, Kosovo, in 1999, has been acquitted.

Source: Beta
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Presiding Judge at the Belgrade District Court Olivera Anđelković explained her ruling, saying that the Court had failed to determine Morina’s participation in the attack, deportation or imprisoning of civilians between July 17 and 21, 1998.

Neither, the Court ruled, did he set fire to or destroy property and religious buildings, which 34 other members of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s Orahovac Group have been charged with.

“The Court was able to hear 20 witness in a relatively short time, mainly locals from Opteruša and other villages. None of those witnesses mentioned Sinan Morina except Slavica Banzić, on whose testimony the charges are based,“ she said.

In Anđelković’s opinion, Banzić statement was contradictory both in terms of identifying the accused and her version of events in Opteruša in July 1998.

She said the Court had unequivocally determined that the events had taken place in the home of the Božanić family, and not in Banzić’s as the witness had claimed.

“Asked who had beaten her, she replied ’the one cited in the summons,’“ said the judge, adding that Banzić had described the culprit as large and fair-haired, even though Morina is lightly-built and dark.

Anđelković said that, as a human being, she was appalled by everything that had gone on during the trial that started on October 17.

“It’s sad, pathetic and disgraceful that such an event should be used to launch proceedings without any evidence. A man has spent a year in custody, witnesses have come to ask of the whereabouts of their dearest, when it’s not the Court’s job to do this,“ complained the judge.

The War Crimes Tribunal has released Morina from custody, where he has been since December 28, 2006.

At the beginning of the trial, Deputy Prosecutor Dragoljub Stanković had asked for Morina not to be charged with murder, as there was no proof of this.

Morina was accused of taking eight women from Opteruša to the village of Zočište, then to Samodreža, where they were imprisoned until July 21, while unidentified members of the Orahovac group assaulted eight men, before taking them to the village of Volujak, and murdering them.

Among the other victims were Božidar, Novica, Mladen and Nemanja Božanić, Spasoje and Miodrag Burdžić, Spasoje Banzić and Sreten Simić. Their bodies were found in April 2005 in a ditch in Volujak.

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