Bosnia Acquits Two Wartime Policemen of Crimes Against Humanity

27. November 2023.10:05
Predrag Markocevic and Marinko Djuric, who were police officers in the town of Teslic during the war, were cleared of involvement in the illegal detention and killing of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in 1992.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Defendant Predrag Markocevic (right) with his lawyer Ratko Gengo outside court. Photo: BIRN BiH.

The Bosnian state court in Sarajevo on Monday acquitted Predrag Markocevic, the former commander of the police’s Public Security Station in Teslic, and Marinko Djukic, the former head of the Criminal Division at the Public Security Station, of involvement in preparing and carrying out plans for the killings, illegal imprisonment, torture and inhumane treatment of Bosniak and Croat civilians in the town of Teslic in 1992.

The court’s first-instance verdict found the two former police officers not guilty of committing crimes against humanity together with members of a military and police formation known as ‘Mice’.

The court concluded that the crimes were committed while the Mice formation was in Teslic, however.

Presiding judge Davorin Jukic said that almost all the witnesses confirmed that the security situation in Teslic deteriorated after June 3, 1992, when members of Mice, behaving aggressively, spreading fear and asserting their authority over the local police force.

“The judging panel found that Mice completely took control of the Teslic Public Security Station,” said Jukic.

“Markocevic and Djukic did not have the real power to resist such a formation and therefore could not make a decisive contribution [ to the crimes],” the judge explained.

Markocevic and Djukic were acquitted on five counts of crimes carried out by members of the police and Mice, including the illegal arrest and detention of civilians at the Public Security Station, where prisoners were kept in bad conditions and beaten. Several of them died because of the abuse to which they were subjected.

The defendants were acquitted of charges that they did not prevent the Mice fighters from abusing the prisoners at the Public Security Station and that they transferred about 50 civilians to a Territorial Defence force warehouse in Teslic, where they were also abused.

Markocevic and Djukic were further cleared of involvement in the transportation of the 18 remaining prisoners from the Public Security Station to nearby Mount Borje, where they were killed.

Markocevic was also acquitted on one count of having ordered and coordinated the arrest of two civilians, while Djukic was acquitted of beating one civilian of failing to prevent the abuse of another. The judge said the testimonies given by witness about these counts in the indictment were not sufficient for a conviction.

Monday’s first-instance verdict can be appealed.

The trial in the case began five years ago and initially also involved a third defendant, Dusan Kuzmanovic, the former head of the Teslic Public Security Station. But the proceedings against Kuzmanovic were separated from the others a few months ago because he escaped.

Marija Taušan

This post is also available in: Bosnian