Serbia Pays €53,950 to Acquitted Bosnian War Defendant

13. October 2020.13:03
The Serbian authorities have paid compensation for the detention and legal costs of former policeman Ilija Jurisic, who was cleared of ordering an attack on a retreating Yugoslav People’s Army convoy in Tuzla in Bosnia in 1992.

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Apelacioni sud u Beogradu Izvor: Ministarstvo pravde Srbije

Serbia has paid out 53,950 euros to former police officer Ilija Jurisic after he was acquitted by a Belgrade court of ordering an attack on Yugoslav People’s Army troops who were pulling out of the Bosnian city of Tuzla in May 1992.

Jurisic sued Serbia in June 2017, seeking compensation for the three-and-a-half years he spent in detention after his arrest in Belgrade, where he stood trial for war crimes.

Compensation of 53,950 euros for “emotional suffering caused by an unfounded deprivation of liberty” was granted by the Appeals Court in Belgrade last September.

Jurisic’s defence team was also granted 91,000 euros in compensation for its costs.

His wife Stoja Jurisic confirmed that the money had been transferred to her husband’s account.

“That is little satisfaction for all the torture that Ilija experienced, but unfortunately, no amount of money can restore his health,” she said.

Jurisic was arrested at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport in 2007 and accused of issuing a direct order to attack the Yugoslav People’s Army convoy while he was a senior officer at the operational headquarters of the police’s Security Services Centre in Tuzla.

Prosecutors claimed that Yugoslav People’s Army and Bosnian representatives had come to an agreement that the army could withdraw from its barracks kin Tuzla without being attacked, but the Bosnian side broke the deal and opened fire. Around 50 retreating soldiers were killed, according to the Belgrade court.

He was initially convicted and jailed for 12 years, but was acquitted on appeal in April 2016 due to a lack of evidence.

Jurisic told BIRN in an interview in 2018 that “what I like most [about the acquittal] is the fact that I can stand up in front of my fellow citizens and neighbours with my good name cleared”.

Ivana Zanic, executive director of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade, argued that the compensation awarded to Jurisic was excessive.

“Serbia has paid extremely high compensation for Jurisic’s proceedings, which is completely absurd given that torture victims and victims of other violations of human rights get compensation of a couple of thousand euros when winning a case,” Zanic told BIRN.

But Sinan Alic, the head of the Truth, Justice, Reconciliation Association, which monitors court proceedings related to the Tuzla area, and who was also involved in Jurisic’s case, said he thought that the compensation was inadequate.

“Ilija Jurisic was brought to the edge of death by the torture in Belgrade. He got sick in that [detention] facility during his unfounded detention that lasted three-and-a-half years and then he got some miserable amount of money,” Alic told BIRN.

Admir Muslimović

This post is also available in: Bosnian (Bosnian)