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The State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has sentenced two Bosnian Serbs to eight years each in prison for raping a Bosniak woman near Foca in 1992.
Radovan Paprica, known as Papro, and Slavko Ognjenovic, known as Macak, were found guilty of crimes against humanity committed within a widespread and systematic attack by the military, paramilitary and police forces of Republika Srpska, RS.
The Court also ordered the defendants to pay 37,000 Bosnian marks (roughly19,000 euros) to the woman as compensation for her mental anguish and impaired ability to lead a normal life.
Paprica and Ognjenovic failed to appear for the verdict. Defence lawyer Anja Loga said they had headed to the court to hear the verdict but then returned due to ice on the road.
The Trial Chamber determined that, as members of military units of Republika Srpska, Paprica and Ognjenovic raped a female Bosniak in the village of Stara Kolonija, Miljevina, on June 9, 1992.
The verdict stated that Ognjenovic, accompanied by a person called Nedjo, took the injured party, witness A-1, from one of the barracks in Stara Kolonija, to an empty apartment. Ognjenovic then left the apartment, while Nedjo raped A-1, after which he left the place and Ognjenovic re-entered.
The Chamber determined that he then tore off the injured party’s underwear, pushed her on to a sofa and also committed rape, slapping her in the face several times. It is further stated that Ognjenovic threatened the woman, saying he would kill her and her children if she told anyone about it.
The verdict further states that A-1 then went out to the hallway, where she met Paprica, who ordered her to go back to the apartment and also raped her. He then told her not to go anywhere, as he would come back again, but she jumped out of a window.
In the Chamber’s opinion, the evidence presented by the defence for Ognjenovic on the suffering of the Serb people in the villages in Miljevina’s surroundings indicated that these were isolated rather than systematic attacks.
Judge Saban Maksumic said the Chamber based its conclusions about the defendants’ responsibility for the rape primarily on the injured party’s own convincing testimony, which was supported by the testimonies of by two witnesses, who had certain information about what had happened to her.
The Chamber said the defence had failed to undermine her credibility, and while there were some inconsistencies in her testimony, they concerned only peripheral issues. Maksumic said the defence had failed to cast doubt on her claim that the defendants were the persons who, A-1 said, raped her.
The judge recalled that A-1 said she had known Papro from before the war and had seen him visit his sister in Stara Kolonija. She had also known the second defendant, under the nickname of Macak, adding she used to see him pass by on his way to work. He mentioned that she had found out their full identities from an elderly local resident.
Maksumic noted that, despite the defence thesis that another person also nicknamed Macak was responsible for the crime, the witness said she had been raped by persons she had seen before the war – not by an unknown person.
The Chamber did not accept an alibi that some witnesses offered for Ognjenovic, claiming their testimonies were directed towards helping him.
Maskumic said the length of sentence took into account the court’s practices and the circumstances under which the crime was committed, as well as mitigating circumstances. The defendants have been banned from travelling. The parties may appeal the verdict with the Appeals Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.