Nicholas Nikola Ribic (born 1974), is a former resident of Edmonton, Alberta, was arrested on February 20, 1999 in Mainz, Germany and then charged as a terrorist as part of the Bosnian-Serb army that captured United Nations peacekeepers and used them as human shields against NATO air strikes in 1995. Ribic, of Serbian ancestry, left his home in Canada to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he joined the Bosnian-Serb army at the height of the war.
Ribic was charged under a section of Canada's Criminal Code on jurisdiction that had never been used before that allows Canada to claim jurisdiction over kidnapping and hostage-taking offences of or by a Canadian committed outside the country. This law was enacted specifically to deal with terrorists.
Ribic's hostage was a fellow Canadian, Capt. Patrick Rechner, working in Bosnia as an unarmed U.N. military observer. The May 1995 worldwide television and newspapers coverage showed the shocking photo of a distraught Capt. Rechner chained to a lightning rod at an ammunition bunker in the Bosnian city of Pale. Ribic was in the uniform of a Bosnian Serb soldier, wielding an AK47 rifle, in the company of other Serb soldiers. Held for 24 days, the photo of Capt. Rechner became a symbol of the United Nations incapacity to deal with Serb military aggression.
Ribic's trial began in Ottawa, Ontario on October 8, 2002. An audio recording was entered into evidence that revealed Nicholas Ribic on the phone to UN headquarters in Sarajevo, warning that if any more bombs fell on Serb positions, the observers would be the first to die. In his testimony, Capt. Rechner stated that Nicholas Ribic was part of almost every crucial stage of his captivity, including making him a human shield by chaining him to the lightning rod.
A mistrial was declared on 20 January, 2003, over "issues of national security" involving "two witnesses, a document and a video".
He was later tried in 2005 for hostage taking and threatening death. He was defended this time by D'Arcy DePoe who called it "one of the most unusual criminal trials in Canadian history" as it was the first time a Canadian had been tried in this way. "While this is an unusual form of trespass, it is submitted that NATO dropping 2,000-pound bombs on this property was clearly a trespass". This time, there was no mistrial declared and Ribic was convicted. Two witnesses from the Canadian Forces, known only as Witness A and Witness B, were only allowed to testify by transcript during Ribic's 2005 trial. D'Arcy objeced to this.
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