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The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals said that it has rejected an appeal for early release from Miroslav Bralo, a former member of the ‘Jokers’ anti-terrorist unit of the Croatian Defence Council, the wartime Bosnian Croat force.
Bralo was convicted of killing Bosniak civilians, including children, during a Croatian Defence Council attack on the village of Ahmici in April 1993.
He was also convicted of raping, torturing and imprisoning a Bosniak woman, and of involvement in the destruction of mosque.
Bralo applied for early release after serving two-thirds of his 20-year sentence in March 2018, but judge Carmel Agius said that there was not enough justification to free him at this point.
“The main reasons for this decision are the absence of any sign of rehabilitation and Bralo’s ‘significantly elevated’ risk of returning to violent offending,” Agius said in his decision, which was made on December 31.
He said that Bralo had displayed a bad attitude in the Swedish prison where he is serving his sentence, and urged him to “return to good behaviour in prison and engage in rehabilitation programmes that are available to him, such as for instance anti-violence training or psychotherapy”.
Bralo initially pleaded not guilty before the UN court in The Hague but changed his mind during his trial and admitted that he was guilty of persecution as a crime against humanity, murder, torture, rape and unlawful confinement.
He wrote a statement of remorse for the crimes he committed, one of the rare such incidents in the Hague Tribunal’s history. “I do believe that the only way forward is for the truth to be told and for the denial to stop,” he said in the statement.
His admission of guilt was taken into account at his sentencing in 2005.
But Agius noted that since his trial, Bralo has said that “he has no remorse”.
“He even denies some of the crimes for which he entered a guilty plea. Furthermore, he has made no efforts to critically reflect upon his actions. Of particular concern to me is his denial of the brutal rape and torture of a Bosnian Muslim woman for which he was a direct perpetrator,” the judge said in his decision.