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Association of war victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday praised the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is closing its doors at the end of this year.
Murat Tahirovic, president of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide, told a press conference in Sarajevo that the Hague Tribunal has left a priceless database of evidence for courts in the region, so they can continue processing war crime perpetrators.
Tahirovic also said that the verdicts handed down by the Tribunal will act as a warning to future generations.
“Victims who testified a number of times about the serious torture they experienced have made the greatest contribution to achieving justice. By testifying, they lived through their past experiences again in order to help achieve these results,” he said.
“The question arises as to whether politicians in the region are ready to show respect for the victims and contribute to legal regulation of their rights, including reparation funds,” he added.
He pointed out that crimes and final verdicts are still being denied in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region, even by members of the country’s tripartite presidency.
“There is a justified concern that politics will influence verdicts and that equating victims and perpetrators will be the next phase,” he said.
Fikret Grabovica, president of the Association of Parents of Children Killed in Sarajevo, told the press conference that he is partially satisfied with the work of the Hague Tribunal, but very dissatisfied with the work of the Bosnian state court and prosecution.
Grabovica said the Hague Tribunal has handed down several verdicts for terrorising, shelling and sniping at civilians in Sarajevo during the wartime siege of the city, but the state court has not passed down a single verdict against perpetrators of the crimes which left around 11,000 inhabitants of Sarajevo dead.
Speaking about former Bosnian Croat military chief Slobodan Praljak’s suicide in the Tribunal’s courtroom last month, Saja Coric, a former prisoner at the Vojno detention camp near Mostar said she felt sorry for “all those who consider Praljak a hero”.
“To a certain extent, I am satisfied with the work of the Hague Tribunal, which said what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We know the story is not over yet. Suits for compensation for non-material damages are ahead of us, but I believe that the truth always wins,” Coric said.
Mirsada Malagic, who testified in The Hague on several occasions, said that the prosecutions of perpetrators have been partially completed, but expressed hope that domestic judicial bodies will continue working in order to complete the job.
The Tribunal shuts down on December 31 this year and its remaining work, including the appeal in the trial of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, will be completed by the Mechanism for International Tribunals.