Bosnia Upholds Verdict Acquitting Ex-Fighters of Serbs’ Killings

14. July 2022.15:39
The acquittal of ex-fighters Edhem Godinjak, Medaris Saric and Mirko Bunoza, who were cleared of the wartime killings and inhumane treatment of imprisoned Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers in Trnovo near Sarajevo, was upheld on appeal.

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Edhem Godinjak. Photo: BIRN 

The Bosnian state court said on Thursday that a prosecution appeal against the verdict acquitting former fighters Edhem Godinjak, Medaris Saric and Mirko Bunoza, who had been accused of war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war, has been rejected as “unfounded”.

The three men were initially acquitted in March 2021 of involvement in a ‘joint criminal enterprise’ which had the aim of committing “multiple murders of Serb civilians in villages located in the Trnovo municipality, their unlawful arrest and incarceration in detention facilities set up in the territory of Trnovo municipality and setting their property ablaze”.

They were also cleared of involvement in the killing and inhumane treatment of captured Bosnian Serb Army soldiers in detention facilities set up in the Trnovo municipality.

Godinjak was tried as chief of the police’s Public Security Centre in Trnovo and as a member of what was known as the ‘war presidency’ in the municipality, Saric as commander of the Territorial Defence force headquarters in Trnovo, and Bunoza as a commander of Croatian Defence Forces units.

They were further acquitted of the unlawful detention of civilians and deliberately inflicting serious physical and psychological pain and suffering.

Two Bosnian Serb ex-soldiers cleared on appeal

In a separate verdict, the state court announced on Thursday that its appeals chamber has overturned the verdict sentencing Bosnian Serb ex-soldiers Bratislav Bilbija and Djuro Adamovic to two and three years in prison respectively for committing a war crime against civilians in the hamlet of Bukvik, near Prijedor, in August 1992.

The appeals chamber ruled that Bilbija and Adamovic will now be retried.

The two former soldiers were initially found guilty in November 2021 of the inhumane treatment of civilians in Bukvik.

But the November 2021 verdict acquitted them, alongside a third defendant, Ranko Babic, of murder, torture and forced disappearances. The appeals chamber has upheld this acquittal.

Haris Rovčanin

This post is also available in: Bosnian