Dronjak: Guilty Verdict for Crimes in Drvar

1. June 2012.13:16
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Ratko Dronjak to 15 years for crimes committed in prison facilities in the territory of Drvar between 1992 and 1995. Dronjak was found guilty of taking part in the creation and functioning of an abuse system aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and committing crimes against civilians and imprisoned soldiers of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatian Defence Council.

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“The Trial Chamber established beyond reasonable doubt that Dronjak, as a warden and commander of prison facilities in the primary school ‘Slavko Rodic’ and the Kamenica camp, was aware of the goal and shared criminal intent of expelling non-Serbs from the territory of the Autonomous Province of Krajina,“ said Minka Kreho, the presiding judge of the Trial Chamber.

The first instance verdict found Dronjak guilty of crime against humanity, for which he was sentenced to seven years in prison, and war crime against civilians, for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison, but the Trial Chamber issued a unique sentence of 15 years.

Dronjak was sentenced by the Bosnian Court for taking part in the creation of a system of imprisonment and abuse of civilians and prisoners of war of non-Serb nationality, who were exposed in the ‘Slavko Rodic’ primary school and Kamenica camp to everyday torture, abuse, forced labour and murder.

“Constant beating of prisoners, carried out by guards under direct Dronjak’s command, had extremely severe consequences, since these prisoners were starved and living in unhygienic conditions. This is the reason why so many of them haven’t survived,” said judge Kreho.

The first instance verdict found Dronjak guilty of deaths of over ten prisoners of the Kamenica camp in the period between 1994 and 1995, who died of many days of abuse and torture.

Dronjak was also sentenced for killing Fikret Begic, Bosniak soldier, who was brought to the Kamenica camp in 1994 as a prisoner of war.

The Court acquitted Dronjak of two counts of the indictment which charged him with murder of several people taken away from the Kamenica camp.

The Trial Chamber explained that the verdict made a requalification of the act and that Dronjak was sentenced for war crime against civilian population and not prisoners of war, becuase it was established that members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatian Defence Council previously had “surrendered their weapons.”

“In cases like these, according to the legal practice such persons should enjoy the same protection as if they were civilians,” said the presiding judge Kreho.

In her explanation of the verdict, Kreho specified that there were no aggravating circumstances for Dronjak, but that the Trial Chamber found “special extenuating circumstances”, including his poor health and fact that he is a family man.

‘The defendant has no previous criminal record and he behaved exceptionally well during the trial. Also, it should be emphasised that crimes in the prison happened mostly at nights, when he was not present and that on several occasions he took prisoners out of the camp to visit their families, as well as that blankets and food be delivered to the camp,” said Kreho.

Dronjak was remanded in custody and the time he spent in it since January 2010 would be counted towards his sentence. There is a possibility of appeal to the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian