Sentences against the Damjanovic Brothers Reduced
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The Damjanovic brothers spent more than six years serving their sentences pronounced under a Bosnian State Court’s verdict from 2007. Under the mentioned verdict, they were sentenced to 11 and ten and a half years in prison respectively.
During a renewed trial the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina considered the duration of sentence and application of the Criminal Code in accordance with the Strasbourg Court’s decision only. The Strasbourg Court determined that the Criminal Code from 2003 was wrongly applied in this case.
Under the new verdict, the Damjanovic brothers have been sentenced according to the law of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, SFRJ.
The Trial Chamber has partially thrown out the 2007 verdict, applying another law and changing the duration of sentence.
“The lawfulness of the verdicts pronounced in 2007 has not been brought under question, but the application of law and duration of sentence have,” said Enida Hadziomerovic, Chairwoman of the First Instance Trial Chamber before which the renewed trial was held.
Explaining the duration of the pronounced sentences, she said that the Chamber considered the fact that the indictees deteriorated the mental and physical condition of the injured parties and degraded their dignity as aggravating circumstances.
“The injured parties experienced torture. They were unprotected, wounded. On the other side there were soldiers, who beat them with their legs, batons, bottles…” said Hadziomerovic.
As far as the mitigating circumstances are concerned, the Chamber took into consideration the fact that the indictees had not been convicted before, that they were family men and that they behaved well during the proceeding, but, as the judge said, this was not enough for reducing their sentences below the legally-set minimum.
The Damjanovic brothers, former members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, were pronounced guilty of having beaten between 20 and 30 Bosniak captives in Bojnik, near Sarajevo on June 2, 1992, in collaboration with other soldiers. As indicated in the verdict, the beating lasted between one and three hours. They beat the captives with rifles, sticks, legs and hands.
Their trial was renewed, because the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg determined, solving an appeal filed by Goran Damjanovic, that the Criminal Code of SFRJ should have been applied, because it was more favourable to perpetrators. After that the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a similar conclusion in Zoran Damjanovic’s case.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina then quashed its earlier verdicts and ordered renewal of trials, also discontinuing the execution of sentences against the Damjanovic brothers.
The parties have the right to appeal the verdict pronounced today with the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Defence attorneys Senad Kreho and Fahrija Karkin announced that they would do that.