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Bosnian Serbs Acquitted of Kalinovik Detentions

12. November 2013.00:00
The appeals court upheld the acquittal of four former Bosnian Serb policemen who were accused of arresting Bosniaks who were later killed in the town of Kalinovik in 1992.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Ex-policemen Milan Peric, Spasoje Doder, Predrag Terzic and Aleksandar Cerovina were acquitted on Tuesday of war crimes, with the appeals court ruling that although they arrested the Bosniaks, they were ordered to do so and were too low-ranking to know if those orders were illegal.

“The prosecution’s evidence could not persuade the chamber that defendants had discriminatory intent, or the will or intention to participate in the expulsion through illegal imprisonment of Muslim civilians,” explained Senadin Begtasevic, the appeals chamber’s presiding judge.

Judge Begtasevic said that it had been established beyond any doubt that in the summer 1992 in the territory of Kalinovik, there was a broad and systematic attack on Bosniak civilians by Bosnian Serb army and police as well as paramilitary formations. However, he said, the prosecution did not present enough evidence that the defendants were aware of this.

The prosecution had alleged that on June 25, 1992, Peric, Doder, Terzic and Cerovina surrounded a group of Bosniaks next to the municipal building in Kalinovik and then illegally locked them up in the Miladin Radojevic primary school.

But Begtasevic said that “the evidence does not indicate that the defendants knew about intentions of their superiors, but that they thought their assignment was only to guard a group of civilians”.

All four men were also acquitted of charges that on the same day they participated in an attack on the villages of Jelasca and Vihovici and illegally arrested of civilians.

“They had orders to apprehend those people and had no way of knowing that the order was illegal,” said Begtasevic.

The verdict further acquitted Peric, Terzic and Cerovina of four counts of illegally arresting civilians, with the appeals chamber concluding that they had no discriminatory intent against Bosniak civilians.

The former policemen were originally cleared of these charges in March 2012, but the appeals chamber quashed the verdict and ordered a retrial.

Tuesday’s verdict cannot be appealed.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian