News 13 Oct 17

Bosnian Army Troops Jailed for Abusing Croat Prisoners

Three former Bosnian Army servicemen were sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison for crimes against Croat civilian detainees who were held at a school near Mostar in 1993.

Emina Dizdarevic
Defendant Enes Curic outside court. Photo: BIRN.

The Bosnian state court in Sarajevo on Friday sentenced Enes Curic to five years in prison and Ibrahim Demirovic to ten years for taking part in the illegal detention and inhumane treatment of Bosnian Croat civilians in Bijelo Polje, as well as making them do forced labour, while Habib Copelj was sentenced to two years for abusing the detained civilians.

Demirovic was also found guilty of raping a prisoner.

Two other former Bosnian Army soldiers, Samir Kreso and Mehmed Kaminic, were acquitted.

Judge Stanisa Gluhajic said it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Curic, Demirovic and Copelj were responsible for taking a large group of civilians who were being held in the elementary school in the village of Potoci to nearby Mostar and using them as human shields.

Curic and Demirovic were also found guilty of taking 12 civilians to do forced labour on nearby Cucurak hill, where three were killed.

Gluhajic said it had also been proven that Curic and Demirovic were involved in taking prisoners to dig trenches on the frontlines in Mostar.

Curic was convicted of taking part in the illegal arrests of civilians; the court did not accept the defence claim that the civilians were moved for their own safety.

He was also convicted of taking four women to get wounded soldiers out of the Neretva river.

“It was also proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Demirovic raped [a woman who testified as a protected witness codenamed] witness B. She described in detail how she was taken from the school [in Potoci’and how Demirovic acted. The statements of other witnesses backed up her statement,” said judge Gluhajic.

Gluhajic also said that it was found that defendant Copelj held a prisoner in an abandoned home and told him to shift sand from one corner to another, which caused the defendant pain and ensured that he “coughed dust for days”.

Meanwhile Kreso was acquitted of taking part in the detention of Bosnian Croat military medical staff in Bijelo Polje, while Kaminic was acquitted of hitting a prisoner at the school in Potoci.

Curic and Demirovic were also acquitted of taking four women to clean houses, and Demirovic was acquitted of threatening prisoners in the school.

The verdict can be appealed.

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