Bosniak Ex-Fighter Jailed for Serdari Village Massacre

4. February 2016.00:00
Former Territorial Defence fighter Fikret Planincic’s 11-year prison sentence for taking part in the 1992 killings of nine Serb civilians, including two children, has been upheld on appeal.

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The Bosnian state court’s appeals chamber found Planincic guilty on Thursday of involvement in the killings of the nine Serb civilians in the village of Serdari near Kotor-Varos on September 17, 1992.

He was also found guilty of taking part in the wounding of two other civilians, one of whom was a pregnant woman.

Two other former fighters, Sead Menzil and Mirsad Vatrac, were acquitted of taking part in the same crimes.

According to the verdict, Planincic arrived at the house of a man called Jelenko Serdar in the morning with other Territorial Defence fighters and killed the victims with rifles and hand grenades.

Presiding judge Dragomir Vukoje said that the court trusted the testimonies of prosecution witnesses, particularly Gina Serdar, who identified Planincic from a photo album, and Joca and Radmila Serdar, who said they recognised the defendant’s “loud and distinctive voice”.

Radmila Serdar survived the massacre in the house by pretending she was dead, said Vukoje.

“The appeals chamber notes that Planincic did not have to physically commit the killings to be found guilty. It would have been enough if he was there and failed to protect the civilians, and that he shared the intention of the actual killers,” the judge said.

The judges took into consideration the number and age of the victims as aggravating circumstances. They said the fact that Planincic has a family and that he expressed regret that some people lost their lives were considered mitigating factors.

Planincic, Menzil and Vatrac were all acquitted of taking part in the killings of seven more civilians at the house of Danka Serdar on the same day in Serdari.

“We do not claim that they are innocent, but the prosecution did not prove their guilt,” said Vukoje.

He added that the defendants were at the scene of the crime, but the prosecution did not submit any evidence about what they did there.

The judges found that all the victims in Serdari were civilians and that the village was not a legitimate military target.

Planincic was initially found guilty of this crime in the first instance proceedings in January 2014, as were Menzil and Vatrac.

Thursday’s verdict cannot be appealed.

Džana Brkanić

This post is also available in: Bosnian