New Trial for Former Commissioner Brkić

The Court of BiH Appeal Chamber has partially overturned a first-instance verdict against Ramo Brkić, the former police commissioner of Una-Sana Canton, and his co-conspirators.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Appeal Chamber threw out a 10-year sentence for organized crime, production and sale of drugs, and abuse of office against Ramo Brkić, the former police commissioner of Una-Sana Canton.

Police Commissionaire got 11 Years
The Court of BiH handed down a final and binding sentence to a former police commissioner of Una Sana Canton for corruption and drug trade.

A new trial on these charges will take place because the criminal procedure law was violated during the first-instance case before the Court of BiH, the appeals judges ruled.

However, one part of the verdict and a one-year prison sentence was upheld for illegal hiring at the Canton’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Along with the prison sentence, Brkić will be fined 2,500 KM, the illicit proceeds of this crime. The sentence will take into account nearly seven months that he has so far spent in jail. The court rules that Brkić took money from at least one candidate applying for a police officer vacancy in return for supplying him with answers to test questions.

The Appeal Chamber also ordered a retrial for Senad Šabić and Satko Kekić, who were sentenced to ten and five years in prison respectively for production of drugs and giving gifts.

The Appeal Chamber said it threw out most of the case due to violations of criminal procedure law. The chamber ruled in favour of the defense teams’ appeals and ordered a retrial to examine existing and possibly new evidence.

The lower court verdict on drug counts does not detail which drug is in question. The verdict used the terms cannabis sativa, marijuana, modified cannabis sativa or skank. The appeals court ruled that this makes it unclear if the drug in question is a high-quality hallucinogenic or an industrial plant, cannabis sativa, that is legal to farm under certain legal conditions.

The chamber said that the inconsistent drug description might have created a confusing verdict, rather than one which was clear and consistent.

The Appeal Chamber deliberated on the case last July and the ruling was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office and the defense attorneys at the end of October.

State prosecutors did not want to comment on the Chamber’s decision, but said that they were ready for a new round.

Lawyer Asim Crnalić, who represents Brkić and Šabić, told CIN that the verdict was thrown out in part because “there was not sufficient ground to establish that Brkić and Šabić have organized any group involved in production and sale of drugs.”

Brkić, Šabić and Kekić were sentenced pending appeal at the end of 2013, after a trial that lasted 1.5 year.

The trial came out of a police operation codenamed Kastel that the State Investigation and Protection Agency conducted in December, 2010. Several months’ of investigation led to the arrest of 41 persons, including police officials and the cantonal political brass.

The BiH Prosecutor’s Office accused another 20 persons along with Brkić, Šabić and Kekić in this case. Of these, 12 pleaded guilty and the Court of BiH sentenced them to prison or probation, while seven persons were acquitted. One case was referred to the Cantonal Court in Bihać.

In January 2014, CIN published a documentary, “Police and (or) Criminals” in which it interviewed Ramo Brkić and other defendants. CIN reporters received an award for investigative reporting for the film from the ACCOUNT network.