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news 06 Dec 12

Bosnia Jails US Embassy Gunman For 18 Years

Bosnia's State Court sentences Mevlid Jasarevic to 18 years behind bars for his attack on the the US embassy in Sarajevo on October 28, 2011.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Jasarevic was found guilty Thursday of committing a terrorist attack when he shot at the US embassy in Sarajevo for some 50 minutes, firing at least 105 bullets, wounding a Bosnian policeman guarding the building and threatening officials of the embassy.

Judge Branko Peric said that Jasarevic, as a member of the so-called Wahhabi community, based in Gornja Maoca, had attacked Bosnia's state institutions and the institutions of international representatives with a view to changing the position of his community.

Peric stated that for such purposes Jasarevic obtained weapons, including two automatic rifles, bullets and five hand bombs, which he took from from the northeastern village of Gornja Maoca to the capital, Sarajevo.

Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmetspahic, charged as accomplices and as members of the same terrorist organization, were acquitted. Peric said the prosecution did not produce firm evidence that the two men were involved in the attack.

In his explanation of the sentence, Peric said the attack was the work of Jasarevic himself, as his defence had maintained during the trial.

The court determined that Jasarevic came to Sarajevo on October 28, 2011, with Ahmetspahic and Pecenkovic, who left him in the Stup area from where he continued to the centre by tram.

When he approached the US embassy, he placed one automatic rifle and three hand bombs near the building and took the other rifle and remaining two hand bombs and started shooting, wounding a policeman and causing material damage to the embassy worth US $100,000.

In the final part of the explanation, Peric noted that the attack suggested that Bosnia faced a growing danger from terrorism.

“Bosnia has never had cases like these before,” Peric said. “This Court is now faced with people who do not recognise it.”

He referred to the the fact that the Wahhabi community of Gornja Maoca does not respect Bosnian laws, does not vote in elections and does not bury its dead in city cemeteries.

He said that Gornja Maoca had shown itself to be beyond the control of the state, which should have paid more attention to this problem and to its leader, Nusret Imamovic.

“By withdrawing from there, Bosnia opened the door to terrorism,” Peric said. “If it hadn't been for Gornja Maoca, there woudn't be a case like Jasarevic.”

He also said that Jasarevic's final word in the trial, said three days ago, that more attacks like his would follow, were deeply worrying.

Jasarevic's attorney, Senad Dupovac, told the reporters afterwards that he did not expect a sentence of 18 years.

“I was aware from the beginning that there had been no organized terrorist group and I thought the sentence would be smaller,” Dupovac said.

“I think that his [Jasarevic's] final words [about more terror attacks to come] added at least a couple more years to the sentence.”

He compared Jasarevic's case to that of the attackers of the US embassy in Belgrade in 2008, when one man died after the embassy was set on fire following Kosovo's declaration of independence.

In September 2012, Serbian courts found the main perpetrator guilty of theft but not for arson.

Dupovac said it was still not proven that Jasarevic shot the policeman who was wounded in the attack as other policemen had opened fire during the 50-minute attack.

Selma Hecimovic, spokeswomen of the prosecutor, said that the chief prosecutor, Dubravko Campara, was satisfied with the sentence but rejected the acquittal of the other two men.

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