News 07 Oct 15

Over 500 Indicted For War Crimes in Bosnia

Bosnia's state prosecution has charged 509 persons with war crimes over the past ten years, 235 of whom were indicted in the last two-and-a-half years, it said in a statement.

Justice Report
BIRN
Sarsjevo

Bosnia's state prosecution said in the last decade it had charged 509 people with war crimes that were committed from 1992 to 1995.

The indictments related to crimes committed against people of all nationalities and the crimes ranged from genocide to crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war.

A significant number of indictments refer to cases of sexual violence, rape, and sexual abuse during war.

“In our current practice, convictions have been handed down in more than 81 percent of cases, which speaks for itself with regards to the quality of the indictments and the professional attitude towards the work on these cases,” the prosecution said.

The prosecution emphasized the need for cooperation with other countries in the region in order to prosecute suspects hiding there.

Recalling its cooperation with partner institutions, it also said that war-crimes suspects had been extradited from the United States, Spain, Norway and other countries.

In the past ten years, meanwhile, Bosnia's state court has jailed 140 persons for a total of 1,881 years while 49 defendants were freed, which means every fourth person was acquitted.

State court verdicts have used facts established by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY. The court has also sentenced ten persons who were transferred to them by the Hague court.

Some 26 plea agreements were accepted by the Department of War Crimes, which handed down jail sentences of a total of 229 years.

At the beginning of its work, the Department of War Crimes applied only the criminal code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was passed in 2003.

In later years, and especially in the last two years, the laws of the former Yugoslavia have been increasingly applied in cases of genocide, war crimes against the civilian population and war crimes against prisoners of war.

The change came after the European Court of Human Rights, in accepting two appeals, ruled that the criminal code of the Former Yugoslavia was more lenient to perpetrators and thus to be preferred.

Afterwards, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina overturned 23 second-instance verdicts and the lengths of sentences were reconsidered.

More than 6,800 witnesses have testified before the Department of War Crimes, and some of them have received protective measures in accordance with the Law on Protection of Endangered and Threatened Witnesses.

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