News 19 Oct 17

European Court Rejects Bosniak Prisoners’ Case Against Serbia

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a complaint against Serbia by Bosniaks who were imprisoned in Serbian detention camps during the Bosnian war was inadmissible.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Photo: Pixabay.

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a second complaint filed in the name of Bosniaks who were detained and tortured in the Sljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps in Serbia in 1995, the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre, which represented the families, said on Thursday.

The Bosniaks were detained after fleeing to Serbia to escape the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As with their first complaint against Serbia, which was thrown out in October 2016, the court said that it was inadmissible because it was lodged too late.

But the Humanitarian Law Centre said that the European Court’s arguments were not substantiated by facts.

“This and similar cases illustrate a clear tendency of the court in Strasbourg to find formal reasons, such as the timely submission of applications… in order to avoid cases with politically sensitive implications,” the HLC said in a statement.

It argued that the two applications were the “only way” to seek justice for the victims and their families.

When the Bosnian town of Zepa was captured by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, the Bosniaks crossed into Serbia, hoping to find refuge.

They were discovered by Serbian border guards and taken to the detention camps in Sljivovica and Mitrovo Polje. They were released in 1996.

According to the HLC, the detainees were tortured physically and mentally, and as a result, three of them died.

The HLC filed criminal compaints against members of Serbia’s police, army and secret service, which the Serbian war crimes prosecutor rejected in 2011.

According to the HLC’s complaints, members of the army, police and secret service established the two prison camps in which they tortured and killed men and boys who fled from Bosnia to Serbia.

“The allegations of murders, daily beatings and torture of prisoners, as well as the inhumane conditions in which they were kept, were rejected by the war crimes prosecutor without interrogating a single one out of 70 proposed witnesses,” the HLC said.

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