City: Belgrade

25. March 2020.
The Serbian war crimes prosecution only issued three indictments in 2019, two of which were in cases transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina, said a new report by the Humanitarian Law Centre.

The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre NGO said in a report published on Wednesday that Serbian war crimes prosecutors are continuing to issue only a small number of indictments, most of them in cases transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and none of them charging high-ranking suspects.

“Bearing in mind that according to the War Crimes Prosecution Office’s data from November 2019, 2,557 cases are in the preliminary investigation stage, but only 15 cases are in the [active] investigation stage, such a work rate will solve a negligible percentage of war crimes cases in the coming period,” the report said.

The Humanitarian Law Centre noted in the report that prosecutors issued three indictments in 2019, two in cases from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The third indictment charges a suspect with war crimes in Kosovo as part of a case that is already ongoing in court.

All three indictments issued in 2019 are related to direct perpetrators of war crimes, not ranking officers.

“This continued the practice of non-prosecution of perpetrators in senior positions in the former military, police and political hierarchy of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” the report said.

“Non-prosecution of high-ranking perpetrators is contrary to the adopted National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution, which states that the Republic of Serbia has decided that ‘cases against suspects of high rank, de jure or de facto, should be given priority in the work of prosecutors in the period 2016-2020’,” it added.

The Humanitarian Law Centre also noted that in 2019, prosecutors did not issue a single fresh indictment for crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians in the Kosovo war.

“Since the beginning of 2013, the HLC has filed nine criminal complaints about crimes committed in Kosovo; in Pec, Mala Krusa, Savine Vode, Vucitrn, Goden, Kraljani, Landovica, Poklek and Djakovica. However, up until the end of 2019, the Prosecution Office did not start an investigation into a single one of the listed suspects,” the report said.


26. February 2020.
Prosecutors in Belgrade charged Osman Osmanovic with committing war crimes against Serb civilians and prisoners of war held at the Rasadnik prison camp in Brcko in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecution told BIRN that it has charged Osman Osmanovic with committing war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war at the Rasadnik camp in Gornji Rahic in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Brcko area during the summer of 1992.

The indictment was issued on Friday and has yet to be confirmed by a court.

After he was arrested on the Serbia Bosnia border in November, the prosecution said that Osmanovic, “as a member of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), and later of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with several members of his unit, inflicted bodily injuries, tortured, abused and intimidated civilians and captured members of the Army of Republika Srpska [Bosnian Serb Army]”.

Osmanovic is a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has asked for his extradition. Belgrade Higher Court rejected the extradition request and Osmanovic remains in custody in Serbia.

Osmanovic’s lawyer, Mirsad Crnovrsanin, told BIRN in December that the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution had no basis for conducting an investigation into Osmanovic, as he is a Bosnian citizen and allegedly committed the crime in Bosnia, and that the only witness and victim also lives in Bosnia.

“The crime under investigation in Serbia is the same as the one investigated in Bosnia, so all conditions for referring the case against Osmanovic [to Bosnia] have been met,” Crnovrsanin said.

The Appeal Court in the Brcko District of Bosnia sentenced ex-fighters Galib Hadzic and Nijaz Hodzic to two years and ten months and one year in prison respectively in 2015 for torturing prisoners at the Rasadnik jail camp during wartime. Osmanovic was a witness at the trial.