In its closing argument, the defense of former Herceg Bosna prime minister Jadranko Prlic contends that the prosecution case was based on ‘phrases taken out of context’. As Prlic’s lawyer said, it was particularly painful to hear what the prosecution thought of the Croat defense witnesses

Michael Karnavas, branilac Jadranka PrlićaMichael Karnavas, branilac Jadranka Prlića

‘It looks as if the prosecution has done all it could to show its aversion to the evidence that stands in the way of its case’, American lawyer Michael Karnavas said in his closing arguments at the trial of the six former Herceg Bosna leaders. Karnavas is Jadranko Prlic’s lawyer. According to him, the prosecution case that pertains to his client is based on ‘phrases taken out of context’.

The indictment charges the former president and prime minister of Herceg Bosna and five other former Bosnian Croat leaders with participation in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at achieving a political and military ‘subjugation and elimination’ of Muslim and other non-Serbs from parts of the BH territory that were to be annexed to a Greater Croatia. The prosecution has asked for 40 years in prison for Prlic, for that and other crimes committed in Herceg Bosna.

In his closing arguments today, Prlic’s lawyer said that an ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disturbing’ topic ran through the prosecutor’s closing arguments; this topic was ‘painful to hear’. The ‘inappropriate’ topic, as Karnavas explained, had to do with an argument Karnavas claims the prosecution propounds: ‘to be a Croat means to be nationalist, an Ustasha and a Nazi’. ‘At least that’s the way we heard’, said Karnavas.

In his closing arguments last week, prosecutor Kenneth Scott brought attention to the fact that the defense witnesses were mainly Croats who during the time relevant for the indictment worked closely with the accused and were thus to a certain extent also part of the same joint criminal enterprise as the accused. They could therefore not be trusted.

Karnavas noted that Prlic’s witnesses were mostly ministers, ambassadors and other eminent Croats who were ideally placed to testify about the way in which Herceg Bosna functioned. Those witnesses could thus explain that Prlic as the president of the Croatian Community of Herceg Bosna was merely a member of a collective body of executive power, which was, as the defense contends, provisional.

Prlic’s defense will continue its closing arguments tomorrow; it has a total of five hours to do it. Bruno Stojic’s defense is up next. The prosecution has asked for 40 years for Stojic, too.

Michael Karnavas, branilac Jadranka Prlića
Jadranko Prlic in the courtroom