The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Alija Osmic to three years of prison for war crimes committed against prisoners of war in Bugojno in 1993 and 1994.
Osmic was found guilty of physically and mentally abusing imprisoned members of the Croatian Defence Council held in a garage in the village of Donjici, Marxist Centre and offices of the BH Bank in Bugojno.
According to the verdict, as member of the Military Police of the 307th Brigade of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Osmic caused “great suffering to prisoners of war”.
“The Appellate Chamber decided to implement the Criminal Code of former Yugoslavia, effective at the time when the acts were committed, assessing that the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not easier on the perpetrator,” explained Azra Miletic, the presiding judge in the case.
This is the lowest sentence which the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed for war crimes and the fourth in which the law of former Yugoslavia was implemented.
The Appellate Chamber assessed that the punishment is proportionate to the severity of the act and role of the accused, and that there were no aggravating circumstances.
“Of extenuating circumstances it has been taken into consideration that the accused had no prior history of convictions, that he is a family man and that he behaved decently during trial. As especially extenuating the Chamber found the context within which the accused acted. Before these events, crimes were committed against Bosniaks, which embittered the population,” explained Miletic.
She pointed out that revenge cannot be justified, but that the responsibility of the defendant should be evaluated in the context of overall events.
The first degree verdict sentenced Osmic to 11 years of prison. After the appeal, the verdict was quashed and a retrial held before the Appellate Chamber, which passed the final verdict.