News 04 May 17

Serbia Clears Two Bosnian Serb Soldiers of War Crimes

A Belgrade court acquitted two former Bosnian Serb Army soldiers of killing a Bosniak civilian in December 1992 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reversing their previous convictions.

The Higher Court in Belgrade. Photo: BETA.

The Serbian appeals court on Wednesday acquitted Bosnian Serb ex-soldiers Nedeljko Sovilj and Rajko Vekic of all charges relating to the civilian’s killing, ruling were that there was no evidence to prove without doubt that they committed the crimes of which they are accused.

The court also ruled that the witnesses did not provide reliable evidence on which to base a conviction.

Sovilj and Vekic were initially convicted last year by the Higher Court in Belgrade and sentenced each to eight years in prison for killing Mehmed Hrkic, a Bosniak civilian, on December 21, 1992, in the village of Osoje, near the Bosnian town of Bosanski Petrovac.

According to the 2016 verdict, the defendants came across Hrkic and another man, Milo Vukelic, as they were passing through the village.

“They ordered Vukelic to go home, and captured Hrkic… The accused - both armed with automatic rifles - took the captive approximately 500 meters deeper into the forest and fired at least three bullets in his direction. Hrkic died on the spot,” the verdict said.

Sovilj and Vekic, both originally from Bosanki Petrovac, fled to Serbia after the end of the war, and obtained Serbian citizenship.

The case was transferred to Serbia from a Bosnian court in the town of Bihac on the basis of an international legal assistance agreement.

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