News 06 Oct 17

Bosnia Clears Serb Policeman of Persecuting Detainees

Former policeman Milan Gavrilovic was cleared of committing inhumane acts against non-Serb prisoners who were being transported between detention camps in the Prijedor area in 1992.

Dzana Brkanic
Milan Gavrilovic in court. Photo: BIRN.

The state court in Sarajevo on Friday found Milan Gavrilovic not guilty of committing crimes in the Prijedor municipality from May to August 1992 due to lack of evidence.

He was acquitted of humiliating detainees while guarding the vehicles that were transporting them from the Omarska detention camp to another camp at Manjaca.

According to witnesses’ testimonies, the detainees were transported in inhumane conditions at high temperatures and were deprived of water.

But presiding judge Mira Smajlovic said that the court had been unable to determine beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was one of the people responsible for guarding the detainees, or the extent of his responsibility for the conditions inside the buses.

“[Gavrilovic] is acquitted of charges that he kicked [detainee] Senad Kapetanovic, who was starved and visibly skinny, in the right part of his head with his right foot inside a bus,” said presiding judge Mira Smajlovic.

According to the charges, Kapetanovic bled heavily and lost consciousness on the following day as a consequence of having been hit, Smajlovic added.

The court said that the testimony given by Kapetanovic had not been confirmed by any other witnesses.

“The prosecution did not invite any witnesses who had been present in the bus with the injured party,” Smajlovic said.

She said that the testimony given by witness Vladimir Sobota, another former Bosnian Serb policeman who was in the car with Gavrilovic during the transportation of the detainees, was of key importance.

“He does not remember anyone getting out of the car during the ride… He also said he was not sure whether the defendant was in charge of guarding the entire convoy,” Smajlovic said.

The verdict can be appealed.

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