The defense of Stojan Zupljanin, war-time chief of the Security Services Center in Banja Luka, called for his acquittal on all counts in the indictment of for a minimum sentence. The defense labeled the prosecution’s demand for life imprisonment for Zupljanin ‘senseless’
The trial for crimes against Bosnian Croats and Muslims in 1992 ended with the closing argument of Stojan Zupljanin’s defense. Zupljanin, former chief of the Banja Luka police, was charged together with Mico Stanisic, the first Bosnian Serb interior minister, with persecution on political, racial or religious grounds, extermination, murder, torture, cruel treatment and deportation of non-Serb population in 20 BH municipalities.
The only adequate verdict for Stojan Zupljanin was his acquittal on all counts in the indictment, Michelle Butler, a member of the defense team said today, labeling the prosecution’s demand for life imprisonment ‘senseless’. If the judges decided to convict Zupljanin, his defense counsel Butler asked them to impose a minimum sentence. The judges should take into consideration the fact that the accused ‘didn’t participate directly in the commission of any crimes’ and ‘tried’ to prevent crimes and punish perpetrators, Butler noted. Finally, Butler urged the Trial Chamber to take into consideration ‘the many testimonials of Zupljanin’s good character’.
The defense didn’t deny that the crimes listed in the indictment happened, but claimed it was not up to the police to punish the perpetrators. Zupljanin was formally the superior of the Banja Luka police but he lacked ‘effective control’ over its members, the defense argued. The power to do it lay with the SDS municipal crisis staffs and the VRS. They had ‘disproportionately greater powers’ than Zupljanin who was ‘sidelined’.
The defense denied that the accused played a ‘key role’ in the implementation of the joint criminal enterprise, that he aided and abetted the crimes and that he had command responsibility over those police units, including the Banja Luka special unit, that committed crimes. In practice, Zupljanin’s orders weren’t obeyed, the defense claimed, and as soon as Zupljanin would hear of crimes he would try to investigate them and to punish the perpetrators.
After the closing argument, the accused Zupljanin addressed the Trial Chamber. As he said, ‘I am sincerely sorry and I sympathize with the victims for their suffering’. The first accused Stanisic didn’t want to address the judges.The presentation of evidence at the trial of Stanisic and Zupljanin began in September 2009 and was completed in mid-March 2012. In more than two years, the court heard the testimony of a total of 147 witnesses. The prosecution called 127 witnesses, Stanisic’s defense called seven and Zupljanin’s defense called ten witnesses. Three witnesses were called by the Trial Chamber. After the hearing ended, the judges withdrew to deliberate on the judgment.