Bosnia's appeals court has sentenced a former Bosnian Serb police officer to 31 years in prison for the genocide in Srebrenica, and acquitted his colleague on all charges.
Radomir Vukovic was found guilty of having participated in the execution of more than 1,000 captured men in Kravica, Bratunac municipality in July 1995, while Zoran Tomic was acquitted of the charges due to lack of evidence.
Under a first instance verdict, pronounced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2010, Vukovic and Tomic, former members of the Second Squad with the Republika Srpska special police from Sekovici, were sentenced to 31 years in prison each for having participated in the mass executions in Kravica on July 13, 1995.
After the verdict had been revoked and the retrial held, the Appellate Chamber determined that Vukovic participated in the capture and escorting of Bosniak male prisoners to the warehouse in Kravica, where he participated in their execution by throwing hand bombs.
“Vukovic was aware of the goal to exterminate the population. (...) When those men surrendered, he was aware of the fact that no plan for taking care of the prisoners existed. He saw that their personal documents were confiscated. All of the circumstances indicated that the goal was to deprive those men of their lives,” Appellate Chamber Chairman Hilmo Vucinic said, explaining the second instance verdict.
As far as the pronounced sentence is concerned, Vucinic said that, although he was young, Vukovic was an experienced policeman and that his duty was to respect the law and offer protection to people.
Following the retrial, the Appellate Chamber determined that indictee Tomic was on duty during the military operations in Srebrenica and that he was present when the men were captured, but it did not see firm evidence that he participated in the murders committed in Kravica.
“Witness D-5 was the only one who directly spoke about Tomic's participation in the murders committed in Kravica. His statement is not problematic, but it is incomplete, because he first said that he thought that he had seen Tomic, but, after that, he said that he knew that Tomic had been present, but he had not personally seen him,” judge Vucinic said.
Due to this and the fact that witness D-5 concluded a guilt admission agreement with the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Chamber assessed his statement in a particularly careful way and determined that his testimony about Tomic was “a product of imprecise recollections”.
He said that in addition to witness D-5's testimony, there were other pieces of evidence against Vukovic.
The custody for Vukovic has been extended. The time he has spent under custody, since August 8, 2008, will be calculated towards his sentence. Following the pronouncement of the verdict, Tomic was released to liberty.
The parties do not have the right to appeal the second instance verdict pronounced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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