A hearing before Bosnia’s state Court took place on Thursday evening for five of the seven suspected ISIS fighters who arrived in Sarajevo after they were deported from Syria, while the two others were questioned by state police as there was no Interpol arrest warrant issued for them.
The suspects arrived via an unscheduled flight alongside six women and 12 children, who underwent security checks and were sent to a special facility for further examination and medical care.
One of the suspected ISIS fighters is Jasmin Keserovic, born in 1994 in the central Bosnian town of Zavidovici. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a warrant for his arrest in 2015. He is accused of organising a terrorist group.
Keserovic is known for his threatening video message which was posted on Youtube. It was titled ‘Honour is in jihad, a message to those from the Balkans.”
According to prosecutors, there are several video excerpts showing him calling for the killing of Christians.
“Jasmin Keserovic is a young man who went there before he was even 19 years old,” said his lawyer, Senad Dupovac.
“His personality was still not formed fully when he left in January 2013. ISIS was declared a terrorist organisation in May. He left at a time when it was thought to be the Arab Spring, when there was talk about introducing democracy there,” he said.
Kenan Ademovic, who is the attorney for Miralem Berbic, called the evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s Office “contradictory.”
“The Security Ministry said in one of its submissions that it does not know that my defendant, Miralem Berbic, had crossed the Bosnian border, while it says in another one that it does,” he said, adding that prosecutors must prove that Berbic took part in some military operation.
He said that Berbic explained that he was in Syria, but that he was engaged in “some other activities” and that he never carried any weapons there.
“My defendant was not arrested, he surrendered and ended up in, as he called it, a ‘prison camp’, for ten months,” he said, adding that his client was born in 1954 and that he is now older than 60. He argued that this is why the defence is proposing that he is placed under house arrest pending trial.
Senad Bilic is the lawyer of Hamza Libidi and Senad Kasupovic.
Libidi, who was born in 1998, left for Syria in 2014. His step-father, Emir Alisic, is also among the deported ISIS fighters.
Libidi refused to stand up during the hearing for “religious reasons.”
He nevertheless stood up after talking to his lawyer and answered the judge’s questions.
Bilic said that his clients were already ordered into pre-trial detention when they left Bosnian territory and that they were under investigation ever since.
The proposal for their pre-trial detention now is based on suspicion that they might try to escape, Bilic said, arguing that this does not make sense since Bosnian authorities have taken away their travel documents.
“Some Kurds kept them imprisoned for nearly a year,” he said, explaining that Kasupovic left for Syria in 2013, when it was not a crime to do so since ISIS was still not declared a terrorist organisation.