US Embassy Gunman’s Trial Starts in Bosnia

The trial of Mevlid Jasarevic, the 23-year-old who shot at the US embassy in Sarajevo last year, and two of his helpers, begins on Friday.Mevlid Jasarevic, who opened fire on the United States embassy in Sarajevo on October 28 last year, and two of his helpers, Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmetspahic will appear in the State Court on Friday, where the official Bosnian indictment will be read out to them.Jasarevic’s lawyer, Senad Dupovac, told Balkan Insight on Thursday that the defence is ready and their main thesis will be that Jasarevic was not a member of a organized terrorist group, as the indictment claims, and acted as a lone individual.

“No terrorist group existed,” Dupovac said, adding that they would summon about 10 witnesses, “depending on how the prosecution acts”.

The State Prosecutor issued the indictment in April charging the three mem with membership of an organized terrorist group that was active in the village of Gornja Maoca in northeast Bosnia.

The indictment says they intended to express dissatisfaction with the position in Bosnia of the Wahhabi community, to which they belonged, and avenge that by violence.

The indictment says Jasarevic went to Sarajevo and opened fire from an automatic rifle, shooting for some 50 minutes with at least 105 bullets at the US embassy in the centre of Sarajevo.

During the shooting, Jasarevic shouted threats at US embassy staff and citizens who were near the building, the indictment states, and wounded a police officer who was guarding the building.

Fojnica and Ahmetspahic are indicted for participation in the same terrorist act because they hid a DVD message that Jasarevic had recorded before coming to Sarajevo that day. They also destroyed ammunition and military equipment that had been obtained for terrorist purposes.

Jasarevic was in custody for almost six months before the indictment was issued in Apri. In May he and the two others pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Prosecution, led by State Prosecutor Dubravko Campara, will include around 40 witnesses along with more than 100 items of material evidence. The main judge is state judge Branko Peric.

Dupovac told Balkan Insight he was satisfied that Judge Peric was presiding over the trial because he had proven immune to media pressure in the past.

“Before the investigation had even ended, the media had already qualified the case as a terrorist act,” Dupovac noted. “And that gave ammunition to the prosecution.”

Jasarevic, from Novi Pazar in Serbia, spent time with his family in Gornja Maoca, known as a centre of the hardline Islamic Wahhabi movement, before coming to Sarajevo on October 28.

After the October attack, police conducted raids on several sites in Bosnia and Serbia, mostly in Gornja Maoca.

He was indicted by the US Justice Department in April and charged, among other matters, with attempted murder alongside nine more counts stating other violations in connection with the attack on the US embassy.

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