News 24 May 17

Bosnia Court Acquits Serbs of Srebrenica Hate Speech

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has acquitted Milan Mandic and local TV station employees of charges of inciting hatred and intolerance in 2014, by allegedly calling the Srebrenica massacre 'God's justice'.

Admir Muslimovic
BIRN
Sarajevo.
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia's state court acquitted the President of the Association of the Families of the Missing Persons of Sarajevo-Romanija Region, Milan Mandic, and three Elta TV station employees Dejan Rakita, Marijana Savic and Mira Kostovic, of inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred over a statement given in 2014.

In an interview with Elta TV Mandic was charged with inciting hatred or intolerance by saying that the war crimes committed against Bosniaks in Srebrenica, where about 8,000 Bosniaks were killed in 1995, were a fair revenge and “God’s justice”.

The other defendants were acquitted of acting as helpers in the commission of the crime.

Explaining the verdict, judge Biljana Cukovic said the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had not recognized any elements of the indictment, adding that, after watching a recording of the TV show, it was determined that Mandic had not committed the crime he was charged with.

“Mandic corrected his statement towards the very end of the show, saying that criminals have no religion or nation and that all of them are the same, which, in the opinion of the Court, brings a new dimension. The prosecution included a part of Mandic’s statement in the indictment, ‘taking it out of context’, which is inadmissible,” Cukovic said.

Cukovic said the Trial Chamber has determined that Mandic did not deny the crimes against Bosniaks in Srebrenica and that the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina had therefore not proved the existence of the elements of the said crime.

“The Court considers that Mandic has the right to interpret his own beliefs, which represents the right to freedom of expression,” Cukovic said.

Under the same verdict, Elta TV station employees Rakita, Savic and Kostovic and the TV station owner, “Stijena herc” Company, were acquitted of the charges as well. All the defendants have been exempted from an obligation to pay the trial costs.

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