Bosnia court orders detention for U.S. Embassy attacker

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 31, 2011 5:52 PM
Bosnia court orders detention for U.S. Embassy attacker

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A state court in Bosnia ordered on Monday the detention on terrorism charges of a gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle on the U.S. embassy in the capital Sarajevo.

Judge Nenad Seleda ordered that Mevlid Jasarevic, a 23-year-old Serbian Muslim, be detained for a month to prevent him fleeing the country, influencing witnesses and hampering an inquiry into the shooting on the embassy on Friday.

Jasarevic said he did not recognize the court.

"I do not recognize your court. It is worthless before Allah," he told the judge during his first appearance in court.

The attack paralyzed central Sarajevo where shopkeepers scrambled for cover as the gunman paced up and down firing on the embassy before a police sharpshooter wounded him and he was arrested.

One police officer was wounded and several bullets struck the wall of the embassy compound.

Jasarevic's lawyer Senad Dupovac told the court the defendant had wanted to become a "martyr." "His goal was to get killed by the officers guarding the U.S. embassy in order to become a martyr and go to heaven."

Dupovac had earlier said that Jasarevic had no accomplices and expressed concern over his mental state.

Jasarevic, who was brought to court from the hospital, appeared collected and calm.

Over the weekend Serbian police arrested and later released 17 people at three locations in the southwest of the country, including in mainly Muslim Novi Pazar, Jasarevic's hometown.

Security officials said Jasarevic, who was convicted of robbery in Austria in 2005 and deported to Serbia, had entered Bosnia on Friday morning. He visited a group of followers of the puritanical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam in Gornja Maoca earlier in the year, they said.

In 2010 police arrested several men and seized a large cache of weapons during a raid on Gornja Maoca where villagers live in accordance with Islamic sharia law.

Many young Bosnian Muslims, particularly from rural areas, have in recent years adhered to Wahhabism under the influence of foreign fighters, most of whom left Bosnia after the 1992-95 war.

(Reporting By Maja Zuvela)