News 03 Nov 17

Bosnian Croat's Sentence Extended Over Orasje Crimes

The Appeal Chamber of Bosnia's state court has extended former Bosnian Croatian military policeman Mato Baotic's sentence to 13 years for crimes committed in the Orasje area of northern Bosnia in 1992.

Admir Muslimovic
Mato Baotic (right). Photo: BIRN/BIH

The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has sentenced former Bosnian Croat military policeman Mato Baotic to a single sentence of 13 years for committing war crimes in Orasje in 1992.

The chamber pronounced the sentence against Baotic following a retrial covering part of the first-instance verdict.

The court now gave Baotic six more years in prison for inhumane treatment of prisoners, the crime for which he was earlier acquitted.

Since he was already serving ten years in jail for rape and mistreatment of another person under the first-instance verdict, the court pronounced a single sentence of 13 years.

Explaining the verdict, Judge Mirza Jusufovic said that Baotic had beyond doubt treated three captured civilians, Pero Bozic, Jovan Cvijanovic and protected witness S-2, inhumanely.

“Baotic took all the three prisoners from a detention camp in Donja Mahala and beat them with chains, electricity cables, as well as his legs and fists, in the examination room. The chamber considers the testimonies given by those witnesses trustworthy,” Jusufovic said.

The retrial happened after the court had accepted the Bosnian state prosecution’s appeal against the acquittal verdict for part of the first-instance verdict.

Baotic was pronounced guilty, in his capacity as commander of the Second Section of the Military Police with the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, of having raped Marija Tunde-Benkovic, as well as protected witnesses S-4 and S-5, and for having mistreated Jovan Cvijanovic while he was held in detention in the elementary school in Donja Mahala, Orasje, hitting him with “a metal dog chain”.

“The time that defendant Baotic has spent in custody, from August 12, 2015 onwards, will be calculated towards his sentence. Besides that, the court has rendered a decision to extend his custody for one more month or until he has been sent to a prison to serve his sentence,” Judge Jusufovic said.

Under the second instance verdict, he has also been found guilty of causing severe physical pain and suffering, mistreating and beating many civilians in 1992. He was acquitted of those charges under the first instance verdict.

Baotic’s retrial began in late September. He was exempted from paying the trial costs, while the injured parties have been advised to settle their property and legal claims through civil suits.

The parties have no right to appeal.

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