The State prosecution and the defendants in the case of deportations of refugees from Montenegro to Republika Srpska in 1992 presented their cases in front of the Appellate Court on Friday in Podgorica.
The Appellate Court organized a session after both the state prosecutor and the victims’ families appealed the acquittal in March 2011 of nine former policemen indicted for deportation of Bosniak and Bosnian Serb refugees from Montenegro to Republika Srpska.
The statement of reasons in the first instance verdict states that indictees were acquitted because Montenegro was not involved in an international conflict with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and because as police officers they were not part of military forces.
Although rejecting it as a war crime, the verdict stated that deportation of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina did occur and it was against the law.
Both appeals presented at the Friday’s session argue that indicted police officers have put themselves at a disposal to the military forces of Republika Srpska, therefore diminishing the strength of the argument that they were not subjected to the Montenegrin military command.
However, state prosecutor and victims’ families have different views on the character of the conflict.
The state prosecutor argues that nine indictees, being allied with Republika Srpska, were involved in an internal conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On the other hand, families of two victims appealed the verdict’s findings that there was no international conflict and called for the implementation of international law.
The defence teams repeated their original arguments that there was no state of war in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time of the deportations. They have also raised an issue of command responsibility, stating that indictees did not have capacity to be involved in an armed conflict without help of the state.
Deportations took place in the spring of 1992. According to the unconfirmed information, more than 150 of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, both Bosniaks and Serbs, were arrested and handed-over to the authorities of Republika Srpska. Documentary "Hero of Our Age", the work of journalist Semsudin Radoncic, argues that 85 of them were killed after being deported.
Appellate Court in Podgorica will announce its decision whether to allow appeals to go ahead in the next few days.
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