Naser Oric's defense finds "astonishing" the failure of the prosecution to run an investigation of the confession made by Slobodan Misic in an interview to the Vranjske novine newspaper in November 1997 that he had killed between 70 and 80 Muslim civilians

Naser Oric in the courtroomNaser Oric in the courtroom

The name of Slobodan Misic a/k/a Top was again in the spotlight at the trial of Naser Oric. He is a volunteer from Vranje. During the war in BH, he fought with the Serb army in the Fakovici area. After the defense complained that the prosecution had not disclosed a document with Misic's interview in which he describes the crimes against the Bosnian Muslims in the Drina Basin, prosecutor Gramsci DiFazzio tried to justify the failure of his team to do so.

He admitted today that the prosecution had made a mistake, caused by the "human factor". He still doesn’t know how it happened: whether because the document went "unnoticed" or because someone on the team considered it not to be "exculpatory" and was therefore not subject to Rule 68. He added that the OTP experts were doing the searches and would disclose to the defense every item related to Misic in the files by tomorrow, to "mitigate the damage". The prosecution claims that there are not many documents in its files on Misic, because he refused to talk to the OTP investigators. As DiFazzio explained, the documents they obtained from Serbia state that when Misic was interrogated by an investigating judge in Vranje, Misic claimed he had "drunk a lot before the interview" and that he "could not remember" ever saying any of the things that were published". After he sobered up, Misic claimed he "did not kill any civilians or prisoners of war".

The defense did not accept this explanation, noting that the report from the Vranje court showed that seven witnesses had been questioned in the course of the investigation. They all claim that Misic took part in the fighting in BH in the Fakovici area. One of the witnesses, defense counsel John Jones claims, confirmed that Misic had cut off the head of a Muslim and stuck it on the fence of a house near Fakovici. He noted that the "prosecution acted in an astonishing manner because it failed to investigate the matter," and that their conduct in this case "raised more issues rather than solving the existing problem".

The debate will continue tomorrow. It is unlikely it will end then, because in the motion, the defense is asking the Chamber to "sanction" this conduct by the prosecution.

Slobodan Misic was mentioned during the testimony of Ibro Alic, who confirmed some of the allegations made in the "killer's confession" published in the Vranjske novine. Alic spent the first two years of the war in the wider area of Fakovici as a male nurse, as he described himself, treating the wounded fighters and civilians. He confirmed that there had been troops stationed in Fakovici, not just the village guards, and that the Muslim "armed and unarmed civilians" in that area were killed every day in that area, by shells, in ambushes as they foraged for food and when the Serb infantry attacked the Muslim villages.

Ibro Alic's testimony will continue in the next two days.