Muslims Accused of Terrorism Expelled From Bosnian Court for Defiance

Posted June 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A court in Bosnia-Herzegovina has ordered three Muslims accused of attacking the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo last year to leave the courtroom for refusing to stand after the judges entered.

Mevlid Jasarevic, Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmespahic, all three in their early 20s, said they only respect God's law as their trial opened Friday in Bosnia'a state court in Sarajevo.

The prime suspect Jasarevic is accused of opening fire on the embassy with an automatic weapon. One police officer was injured in the October 28 attack. Fojnica and Ahmetspahic are charged with helping him prepare the attack and later covering up evidence including weapons.

Jasarevic told the judges that their court defends laws invented by humans, and that Muslims are forbidden to respect such tribunals. A judge (Branko Petric) ordered that the defendants be removed from the courtroom and the indictment was read out in their absence.

Prosecutors say Jasarevic, a Serbian national was arrested on the scene immediately after the shooting, and his two accomplices who are Bosnian nationals belong to a terrorist group from Gornja Maoca, in northeastern Bosnia.

The isolated community is considered the headquarters of the Bosnian Wahhabi movement, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia. It has been targeted in several police operations in the last few years.

The defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges. The trial will continue July 3.

A spokesman for the prosecutors (Boris Grubesic) said the prosecution has 39 witnesses and about 100 pieces of evidence in the case.

Jasarevic's lawyer Senad Dupovac said he will try to prove that his client did not act as a member of a terrorist group.

“Legal battle will be about (the question) was there a terrorist group or not? So prosecution in indictment said there was a terrorist group, so it's been qualified as a very serious crime, so the punishment can be much harder. Concerning my client, if we manage to prove that there was no terrorist group, so that my client did not act as a member of terrorist group or as a group leader, that'd be at least 10 years in prison.''

In April, Jasarevic was also indicted by a US jury on attempted murder, destruction of property and firearm charges.

Bosnia's Muslims make up about 40 percent of the country's population of some 3.8 million.