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The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday jailed five former Bosnian Croat soldiers to 12 years and six months for committing crimes against Bosnian prisoners at the Ljubuski camp in Western Herzegovina during the 1992-5 war in Bosnia.
Ivan Kraljevic was jailed for two years, Mato Jelcic for 18 months, Stojan Odak to seven years and Vice Bebek and Vinko Radisic to a year in prison each.
All five former members of the Croatian Defence Forces, HVO, were found guilty of holding Bosniak prisoners in inhumane conditions, permitting their abuse, giving them little food and taking them to do forced labour.
Kraljevic and Jelcic were former commanders, at different periods, of the camp in Ljubuski, which was located in the old police building and held around 100 Bosniaks. The other defendants were guards.
Presiding Judge Jasmina Kosovic said the Prosecution had proved that the five indictees were responsible for crimes in the camp.
Kosovic recalled that, due to the poor hygienic conditions in the camp, diseases, infections and lice spread, and the prisoners were constantly afraid for their lives.
“More than a hundred persons were illegally detained in Ljubuski, where they were held in inhumane conditions, taken to do hard labour and physically and mentally abused, just because they were of a different nationality,” said Kosovic.
“They were held in places that were wet and had rodents. They only got food once a day and had to go to the toilet in a bucket in the same room,” she noted.
The same verdict acquitted Slavko Skender and Milos Dragan of all charges.
Another former guard, Nedeljko Matic, was also charged in this case, but ran away. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The trial started in October 2015. The verdict can be appealed.