Seven Bosnian Army Ex-Troops Convicted of Wartime Prisoner Abuse

Seven former Bosnian Army soldiers and military policemen were sentenced to a total of 36 years of prison for crimes against civilian detainees and prisoners of war held at a hotel in the town of Buzim in 1994-95.

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Decembar 2023. Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: BIRN BiH

The Bosnian state court in Sarajevo on Monday convicted Vahid Bajraktarevic, Senad Salkic, Zijad Nanic, Esad Kudelic, Hasan Mustafic, and Samir and Husein Isakovic of abusing detained civilians and prisoners of war at an improvised detention facility located in the former Radoc hotel in Buzim from November 1994 to August 1995.

Nanic was convicted of committing the crime as assistant commander for security of the 505th Buzim Brigade of the Bosnian Army’s Fifth Corps, Kudelic as commander of the military police squad of the Buzim Brigade’s command, and Bajraktarevic, Salkic, Mustafic and Samir and Husein Isakovic as members of the brigade’s military police.

Bajraktarevic was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Salkic to eight years, Nanic and Kudelic each to five years, Mustafic to three years and Samir and Husein Isakovic to a year and a half each. Another defendant, Nedzad Bapic, was acquitted.

The military policemen were convicted of taking prisoners out of the improvised jail and seriously abusing them by hitting with their fists and various other objects and kicking them. Some of the prisoners who were beaten up were minors.

Salkic was also convicted of forcing prisoners to harm themselves on several occasions.

Nanic and Kudelic were found guilty of not preventing the military policemen from taking prisoners out of the improvised prison every day to be beaten up.

Some of the prisoners who were assaulted were not given medical assistance and died of the injuries they sustained.

“The existence of an improvised prison in Radoc hotel was undisputably established and so was the fact that it was guarded by the military police of the 505th Buzim Brigade,” said presiding judge Darko Samardzic.

“The chamber determined that the defendants treated the civilians in an inhumane manner on the basis of witnesses who testified in a clear and unambiguous manner,” Samardzic added.

According to the Chamber, considering the positions they held, Nanic and Kudelic had an obligation and duty towards their subordinates and civilians.

The crimes were committed against captured members of the Bosnian Serb Army and the National Defence force of the unrecognised Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia wartime statelet, which waged a separatist conflict against the Bosnian authorities in Sarajevo.

Mehmed Alesevic, a former military police officer with the Bosnian Army’s 505th Buzim Brigade, was initially indicted in the case but the proceedings against him were separated from those against the others.

Alesevic was sentenced to five years in prison under a final verdict in November 2022.

Monday’s verdict was a first-instance judgment and can be appealed.

Emina Dizdarević Tahmiščija

This post is also available in: Bosnian