Former military policeman jailed for role in murder of at least ten Bosniaks held in Ripac village in 1992.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has jailed Zeljko Stanarevic for 13 years for crimes against humanity in the Bihac area of northwest Bosnia.
The court found the former military policeman of the 15th Bihacka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, guilty of participating in murders of at least ten Bosniak civilians who had been detained in Ripac, in the Hrgar area, in the summer of 1992.
According to the verdict, Stanarevic, in company with six other VRS members, came to a tractor workshop in the village of Ripac where the civilians had been detained between June 24 and the first half of July 1992. At least ten of the civilians were then singled out, tied up and transported by truck to Hrgar.
The verdict says Stanarevic personally killed at least three of the civilians and ordered the others to get off the truck and go to the Bezdana pit where other soldiers killed them.
The court determined that Stanarevic participated in throwing the bodies into the pit.
Trial chamber chair Mira Smajlovic said the chamber trusted the testimony of protected witness “S-1”.
“The defence tried to deny the credibility of witness S-1 but the Chamber did not accept it. The defendant himself said during his testimony that this witness had no reason to accuse him without foundation,” the court determined.
Smajlovic mentioned that defence witnesses had failed to confirm the defendant’s claim that he had not reached Hrgar but had got off the truck before to visit his parents.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina also pronounced verdicts for the killings committed in Kalinovik in August 1992.
It jailed the former member of the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, Novica Tripkovic, for eight years while acquitting Zoran Bjelica.
Tripkovic was found guilty of having killed three Bosniak civilians detained in the Miladin Radojevic school in Kalinovik.
The chamber determined that Tripkovic entered the school with a minor and another soldier and that they then assaulted the three detainees, one of whom died from the beating. They killed the other two with an automatic gun the following day.
Explaining the verdict, chamber chair Zeljka Marenic recalled that witness Enesa Hasanbegovic, wife of one of the men who were killed, recognized Tripkovic without any dilemma.
“She remembered his face very well,” Marenic noted, adding that by other witnesses, including guards and detainees, confirmed Hasanbegovic’s testimony.
Tripkovic was acquitted of having killed another civilian, Hasim Hatic. The chamber ruled that the prosecution had not been able to prove the charges against Bjelica.
“The witnesses were unable to confirm his presence in the incriminating period of time, which gave rise to suspicions among the chamber members,” Marenic said.
The parties have the right to appeal both verdicts with the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.