The Supreme Court in The Hague upheld the conviction of a suspect for manslaughter of a fellow student at Saba University School of Medicine on April 15, 2015, the court announced Tuesday.
The woman Kavya Guda (24) was killed in her apartment in Saba. She was found lying on her stomach on her bed, with her hands behind her back and her dress pulled up to her hip.
An autopsy showed that she had died in the night due to strangulation and possibly also by obstruction of breathing through the nose or mouth, and that her arms and wrists were probably tied. Semen from the suspect, fellow student Senad Cejvan, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Missouri, United States, was found in her body. ‘Traces were also found on her dress whose DNA profile matched that of the suspect.
Cejvan (37) stated, among other things, that he had sexual contact with the woman early in the evening of April 14, 2015, but not one day later, and that after he had brought the woman home with another person, he first visited the other person and then went straight home.
In its verdict of June 24, 2021, the Joint Court of Justice ruled that the statements of the accused were manifestly false. The court established that the suspect violently killed the woman during sexual intercourse and sentenced him to 11 years in prison for manslaughter and possession of a large amount of child pornography. The defendant appealed this judgment in the Supreme Court in The Hague.
The suspect’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to quash the conviction. Among other things, they complained about the Appeals Court’s rejection of an alternative scenario put forward by the defence. Complaints were also made about the use of the accused’s statements as evidence, which the court regarded as apparently false. The attorney general concluded that the appeals should be dismissed.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court devoted a consideration to the inclusion of an implausible or untrue statement by a suspect in the assessment of the evidence. The Supreme Court argued first and foremost that, as happened in this case, the court may, when weighing the evidence, assign significance to a certain extent to the circumstance that the suspect made a statement which, in the court’s opinion, is not plausible or false.
In this case, the court regarded some statements by the suspect as manifestly false and used them for evidence. According to the Supreme Court, these statements were made to conceal the fact that the occasion when the suspect left his semen traces with the victim was directly related to the moment when he committed violent acts that caused her death, and to conceal that he came walking from the victim’s home during the night of her death.
According to the Court of Appeals, the suspect’s statements were incompatible with the facts and circumstances emerging from other evidence in this case. The Supreme Court considered this judgment of the Court of Appeals sufficiently substantiated and in accordance with the requirements set by the Supreme Court for the use of such a statement as evidence.
The Supreme Court also considered the Court of Appeal’s opinion that the alternative scenario as put forward by the defence, in which not Cejvan but a friend of the victim would have killed her, was not plausible and insufficiently substantiated.
With the judgment of the Supreme Court, Cejvan’s conviction and the 11-year prison sentence have become irrevocable.
The Daily Herald.