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Bosnian Croat Fighter Jailed for Abusing Bosniaks

9. December 2015.00:00
Former Croatian Defence Council fighter Ivan Zelenika was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the inhumane treatment of Bosniak civilian detainees in Mostar during wartime.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The cantonal court in Mostar on Wednesday found Zelenika guilty of having severely physically and mentally abused detainee Almir Lalic in November 1993, while prisoners were doing forced labour in Mostar.

He was also found guilty of beating another Bosniak civilian called Muhamed Lalic at his apartment in Mostar in May 1994.

Presiding judge Slavko Pavlovic said Almir Lalic, as well as his mother and sister, had given a clear and precise description of the manner in which the crime was committed.

“Almir described it directly with many details, while the two [other] witnesses’ testimonies confirmed Almir’s testimony. They form the basis for rendering this decision,” Pavlovic said.

On the second count, a witness clearly testified that “Muhamed Lalic told him Zela [Zelenika’s nickname] had beaten him with a bottle”, the judge said.

The chamber took into account the fact that the defendant was sick, that he was a disabled war veteran without any income and that he had a child living with him as mitigating circumstances.

“It has been determined that he suffers from PTSD and that he helped certain people who were on the opposite side during the war. Those are extraordinary mitigating circumstances, which have enabled us to pronounce a sentence that is shorter than the minimal one,” Pavlovic said.

The verdict can be appealed at the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In April this year, Zelenika was sentenced to six years in prison in a separate case for a series of crimes against detainees held by the Croatian Defence Forces.

He was found guilty of taking part in a widespread and systematic attack against Bosnian Serb civilians who were illegally detained at a military field hospital in Mostar and the Dretelj camp near Capljina, where they were abused, sexually tortured and used as forced labour.

Sanela Gaković

This post is also available in: Bosnian