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Bosnian Genocide Convicts Appeal ‘Unjust’ Sentences

22. August 2014.00:00
Six Bosnian Serbs convicted of the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in 1995 are appealing against their 20-year prison sentences, arguing that they are too harsh.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The six convicts who were jailed for genocide in Srebrenica have appealed to the constitutional court, saying that the maximum sentence they should have received is 15 years each.

Lawyers for Slobodan Jakovljevic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Branislav Medan, Brana Dzinic, Milenko Trifunovic and Petar Mitrovic said that 15 years was the harshest penalty envisaged by the criminal code of the former Yugoslavia, under which the men were originally tried and convicted in 2009.

“Regardless of the position of the court, we think that 15 years is possible, and that [a sentence of] 20 years is impossible,” said Rade Golic, the defence lawyer for Trifunovic.

The appeal is the latest in a series of legal wranglings which have seen a number of genocide convictions overturned by the constitutional court because the wrong criminal code – the stricter Bosnian criminal code, which was not in force at the time the crimes were committed – was used at their original trials.

The constitutional court had to intervene after the European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that convicts’ rights had been violated by the incorrect use of the stricter criminal code.

The six men’s verdicts were quashed last year and they were then resentenced to 20 years under the more lenient, former Yugoslav criminal code – a significantly reduction in their jail terms.

The Bosnian court has said that trial chambers are free to decide on relevant sentences in each individual case, corresponding to the crime that was committed.

But the men’s lawyers also argued that the Bosnian court did not examine the men’s allegations that their right to a fair trial had been violated during the original hearings, that the retrial had not addressed the issue, and that the constitutional court must now rectify that.

“We are asking the constitutional court to say that the trial was not legal and to order a retrial,” Golic said.

The constitutional court however is only expected to decide on the appeals in several years’ time, the men’s lawyers said.

Amer Jahić

This post is also available in: Bosnian