Jezik / Language:
28 February 2008

Bosnia Sentences Two For War Crimes


The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has sentenced Mitar Rasevic to eight and a half years and Savo Todovic to 12 years imprisonment for crimes committed at the Foca correctional facility.

The Court of BiH Chamber announced Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic guilty of crimes against humanity committed at the Correctional Facility in Foca and sentenced them to eight and a half and twelve and a half years imprisonment respectively.

They were also found guilty of having participated in joint criminal enterprise.

The time they have spent in custody will be credited towards their sentence. Rasevic has been in custody since August 2003 and Todovic since January 2005.

The indictment alleged that Todovic and Rasevic, between April 1992 to October 1994, participated in the mistreatment of more than 700 prisoners at the Foca Facility. Rasevic was commander of guards, while Todovic was deputy commander of the Facility, which had "all the characteristics of a detention camp".

The announcement of the verdict started with an hour and a half delay. Upon his arrival to the courtroom, Trial Chamber Chairman Hilmo Vucinic said the delay was "just proof" that the three-day legal deadline "was not sufficient for these type of decisions."

The Trial Chamber announced the two indictees guilty of all counts in the indictment, but it acquitted them of the charges contained in two sub-counts, which charged them with having "maintained the system of mistreatment of prisoners" in the Foca Facility and with having ordered the guards to take prisoners for examination and beating.

Vucinic pointed out that there was not sufficient evidence to prove some allegations in the indictment and that the Prosecution did not try to prove some of them. According to the Trial Chamber, on the basis of the presented pieces of evidence it can be determined that the indictees were "aware of their positions and of all the happenings in the Facility" and that these institutions were under the jurisdiction of civil authorities, "that is, the management team, whose members the indictees were."

"Most of the witnesses were survivors from the facility. The Chamber is aware of the fact that they were not eyewitnesses to these events, but it decided to admit their statements, as they suffered incrimination and because their statements were more or less the same," Vucinic said.

Chairman Vucinic also emphasised that, when considering the severity of the sentence, the Chamber "especially considered the mitigating circumstances" for Rasevic although he did not say which circumstances he was referring to.

"The eight and a half years sentence can fully serve the purpose of punishment. Concerning Savo Todovic, the Chamber determined that the twelve and a half years sentence is adequate bearing in mind the severity of the crime," Vucinic said.

The Defence attorneys of the two indictees said that they intended to file an appeal, as they were not content with the verdict.

"I did not expect such a verdict. I was hoping for a far less severe punishment or a verdict of release. We shall definitely file an appeal," said Mladen Sarenac, attorney of Todovic.

"The Court did not have the courage to pass down a verdict of release," said Slavisa Prodanovic, Rasevic's attorney, adding that he will file an appeal once he gets a copy of the verdict. According to him, the Trial Chamber will "hardly manage to justify" this verdict.

The two indictees were originally indicted International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. In October 2006, as part of the ICTY's exit strategy, their case was referred to Sarajevo for further processing.

In early 2007 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed the amended indictment against them.

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