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Freed Bosnian Serb War Criminals’ Retrial Opens

21. November 2013.00:00
The new trial will not reconsider the guilt of brothers Goran and Zoran Damjanovic, whose war crimes verdict was quashed because the wrong criminal code was used at their original trial.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The court in Sarajevo on Thursday ruled that it would not hear any evidence about the guilt of the two Bosnian Serb brothers, but would only consider testimony relating to the length of their sentences.

Goran and Zoran Damjanovic were originally jailed in 2007 for 11 and ten and a half years respectively for war crimes against civilian prisoners near Sarajevo in 1992.

But the verdicts were recently overturned by Bosnia’s constitutional court because the stricter Bosnian criminal code from 2003 was wrongly used at their trial instead of Yugoslavia’s more lenient criminal code from 1976.

The decision came after the European Court for Human Rights ruled that the 2003 Bosnian criminal code had been wrongly used to try crimes which were committed before it was introduced.

Lawyer Fahrija Karkin, who represents Zoran Damjanovic, said that the constitutional court decision meant that the evidence related to his client’s guilt could be presented at the retrial.

The lawyer for Goran Damjanovic, Senad Kreho, said he was “surprised by the decision of the court of Bosnia and Herzegovina” and said that he had not prepared evidence about the duration of the sentence for this hearing.

The Damjanovic brothers, both soldiers with the Bosnian Serb Army during wartime, were found guilty of beating 20 to 30 imprisoned Bosniaks in the village of Bojnik near Sarajevo on June 2, 1992, along with other soldiers.

The EU, the OSCE and the Office of the High Representative, the top international official in Bosnia, all expressed concern this week about that the Bosnian state court’s decision to free the Damjanovic brothers and ten other convicted war criminals who were also tried under the wrong criminal code.

“We are deeply worried about this new situation which has led to retrials being ordered in cases in which persons were sentenced for the most heinous crimes, including genocide,” the OSCE mission to Bosnia said in a own statement.

Amer Jahić

This post is also available in: Bosnian