Karajic: Sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment

29. November 2011.13:51
The Appellate Chamber of the State Court sentenced Suljo Karajic, former member of the Fifth Corps with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to 18 years’ imprisonment under a second instance verdict.

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Karajic, former member of the 506th Brigade and then Commander of Military Police Squad of the 505th Brigade of the Fifth Corps with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH), was found guilty of murder, inhumane treatment and the unlawful detention of civilians and members of the National Defence of the Western Bosnia Autonomous Region, (NOAPZB).

“The Appellate Chamber did not find as disputable the identification of the indictee as the perpetrator of the crime. Prosecution witnesses recognised him as Suljo ‘Hodza’, who had a fixator on his arm and rubber baton with which he was beating. They recognised him in the courtroom, while some of them addressed him directly”, said Dragomir Vukoje, Chairman of the Appellate Chamber.

Karajic was convicted of war crimes against prisoners of war and received a jail term of14 years, while for war crimes against civilians he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, but the Appellate Chamber of the State Court handed down an aggregate sentence of 18 years in prison.

Under a first instance verdict pronounced in April 2010, Karajic was also found guilty of the murders of civilians and prisoners of war and was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. This verdict was revoked in April 2011, after appeals of the Prosecution and Defence were accepted, and the retrial ordered before the Appellate Chamber.

The Appellate Chamber found Karajic guilty of nine out of ten counts – among other things, for the murders of Amir Karajic, called Kolac, and Mujo Pehlic in 1994, as well as for “the unfounded arrests and harassment of civilians and members of the NOAPZB” in the elementary school in Todorovska Slapnica, where some of them were killed.

By the second instance verdict, Karajic was acquitted of charges that he cut the head of one member of NOAPZB with a saw in the village of Trnovi in December 1994, and then put it on a stick and stuck it in the ground.

Explaining the verdict, Chairman of the Appellate Chamber said that regarding aggravating circumstances, the Court acknowledged the seriousness of the crimes committed by Karajic, the number of victims and “the special cruelty that he has shown”.

“Regarding the mitigating circumstances, the Court specifically distinguished the fact that Karajic admitted certain counts, that he is the father of young children and that he was wounded during the war. Several witnesses spoke about the indictee’s courage, which the Chamber did not question. Karajic had the courage but lacked compassion for the victims”, said Vukoje.

The sentence includes the time that Karajic has spent in custody from October 17, 2007, and the Appellate Chamber acquitted him of paying the compensation costs.

The damaged parties with eventual property claims are instructed to lodge lawsuits.

There is no possibility of appeal to this sentence.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian