Tribunal Drops Charges Against Suspect in Mistaken Identity Case
Jun. 18, 1996
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ A Bosnian Serb held on charges of murder and torture was released Monday after a war crimes tribunal admitted he was the victim of mistaken identity and dropped all charges against him.
The dismissal marks the first time the U.N. tribunal has withdrawn charges against any of the 58 indicted war crimes suspects from the former Yugoslavia.
The reversal also underscored one of the tribunal's major hurdles _ identifying the often obscure perpetrators of atrocities committed several years ago. The tribunal does not even have photos of some of its suspects.
Goran Lajic, 28, was arrested last March in Germany after his name and birth date were found to match those of a Goran Lajic indicted for killing at least five detainees and torturing others at the notorious Bosnian Serb-run Keraterm camp between May and August 1992.
During his arraignment last month, Lajic pleaded innocent and said he had ``never set eyes'' on the Keraterm camp near Prijedor, about 31 miles from Banja Luka, in northwestern Bosnia.
Nine out of 10 witnesses, who were Keraterm detainees, were unable to pick out Lajic's photo from a lineup, according to the prosecution's motion to dismiss the charges.
On Monday, Lajic said he repeatedly told German judges when he was first arrested that they had the wrong man. The German jurists replied they had no jurisdiction in the case.
``Goran Lajic is a frequent name in Bosnia and Herzegovina ..., '' he said. ``I offered to confront the witnesses, but that wasn't possible.''
The only other suspect released by the tribunal was Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic, who was accused of war crimes in connection with the siege of Sarajevo. He was let go because he was dying of pancreatic cancer.
Djukic died last month.