News 12 Feb 13

Montenegro Policemen’s War Crimes Acquittal Disputed

Montenegro’s prosecutor is appealing against the acquittal of nine former policemen for the 1992 deportation of Bosnian refugees, most of whom were then killed.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

Deputy special prosecutor Lidija Vukcevic urged the appeals court in Podgorica to overturn the 2012 verdict, Montenegrin newspaper Dan reported on Sunday.

The nine former officers were charged with the unlawful arrest and deportation of Bosniak and Bosnian Serb refugees from Montenegro to the wartime Bosnian Serb entity in May 1992.

After their deportation, most of the Bosniaks were executed.

In November 2012, a court found that nine indictees did unlawfully arrest civilians from Bosnia but could not be held liable for committing a war crime.

It said it made its ruling because the defendants did not take part in the Bosnian war nor put themselves at the disposal of any of the sides in the conflict.

The court also found that the prosecution did not successfully argue the case that the victims were refugees and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, since Bosnia’s law on citizenship only came into force in 1998.

But the prosecution’s appeal, parts of which were published by Dan, argues that the reasons for the acquittal were unfounded and contradictory.

“During the trial, it was clearly determined that the victims, due to the war in Bosnia, as Bosnian citizens, came to the territory of Montenegro in order to avoid armed conflict,” the appeal said.

It further argues that, since the criminal acts were committed against civilians, they represent a breach of international humanitarian law.

The nine men had already been acquitted once in March 2011, but the Appeals Court overturned the first instance verdict in March 2012 and sent a case for a retrial.

During the retrial, the prosecution also argued that the indictees, by fulfilling the request to deport the refugees, openly sided with the Bosnian Serbs in the war.

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Background

Timeline: Cases for War Crimes in Pec Villages

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlan in Kosovo in 1999.

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