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Harsher Sentence or Release: Srebrenica Massacre Verdict Appealed

16. September 2013.00:00
The Prosecution requested from the Appeals Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina a retrial or a harsher sentence for Bozidar Kuvelja, who was sentenced by a first instance verdict to 20 years for the crime committed in Srebrenica.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

In its appeal, the defence requested that the defendant be freed or put on retrial before the Appeals Chamber.

The Prosecution and Defence appealed over violations of the criminal procedure, incorrect and incomplete establishment of facts, and the ruling on punishment.

The prosecutor, Ibro Bulic, said that the first instance chamber refused to examine the protected witness code-named KB-119, because the Prosecution questioned him after the indictment against Kuvelja was filed. Bulic added that KB-119 should have been a “key witness” on the execution of survivors in Kravica.

“This witness provided key information for the criminal act committed by the defendant. That is why the prosecution suggested him as an additional witness. Before that questioning, the Prosecution did not know what kind of information he had, and, in addition, he lived abroad,” said Bulic.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Kuvelja to 20 years of prison in January for the crime against humanity committed in Srebrenica in 1995. Kuvelja was found guilty of expulsion of Bosniak population, and participation in the forced transfer and murder of men in Kravica.
The Trial Chamber concluded that after the mass murder of men in Kravica on July 13, 1995, in the morning hours of the next day Kuvelja opened fire from a machine-gun at survivors who were tricked into leaving the warehouse.
The defendant was at the time member of the Jahorina Training Centre of the Special Police Brigade of Republika Srpska.
In its explanation of the appeal, the Prosecutor Bulic said that the first degree chamber had to examine witness KB-119 because his testimony was “necessary for the correct establishment of the facts.”
The Defence said that the Prosecution knew about the witness before “but did not suggest him.”

The Prosecution said it believed that by sentencing Kuvelja to 20 years the Court issued a “mild sentence”. Bulic reminded that some people were sentenced before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 28 years of prison “although they were only guards.”

“When it comes to punishment, I would like to quote the case of Erdemovic, who was sentenced by The Hague Tribunal to five years for murder,” said Kerim Celik, the defendant’s lawyer.
Erdemovic confessed before The Hague Tribunal to the killing at the Branjevo military farm near Zvornik and was sentenced to five years of prison. According to verdicts, several hundred Srebrenica men were executed at Branjevo on July 16, 1995.

The Appeals Chamber will rule on appeals at a later date.

Selma Učanbarlić

This post is also available in: Bosnian