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8 February 2010

Bozic et al: First Instance Verdict Confirmed

The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirms the first instance verdict, sentencing Mladen Blagojevic to seven years in prison and acquitting Zdravko Bozic, Zoran Zivanovic and Zeljko Zaric of the charges that they committed war crimes in the Srebrenica area.
By the first instance verdict, Blagojevic was pronounced guilty of having shot, using an anti-aircraft gun, at the "Vuk Karadzic" school building in Bratunac, in which male residents of Srebrenica and the surrounding villages were detained, in July 1995.

"The Chamber determined that Blagojevic shot at the school building window by which a detainee was standing. The indictment did not specify whether the person was killed. We therefore characterized the crime as 'other inhumane acts committed with an intention of causing bodily injuries'," the first instance verdict, handed down in November 2008, stated.

The Appellate Chamber confirmed the verdict, rejecting as groundless the appeals filed by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mladen Blagojevic's Defence.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina filed an appeal on the basis of grave violations of the Criminal Proceedings Code and the Criminal Code and wrongly and incompletely determined facts, and challenging the sentence. At the hearing held on October 5 last year the Prosecution called on the Court to overturn the first instance verdict and order a new trial.

Blagojevic's Defence appealed the verdict on the basis of substantive violations of the Criminal Proceedings Code and Criminal Code, as well as wrongly and incompletely determined facts.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charged Bozic, Blagojevic, Zivanovic and Zaric, as former members of the Military Police Squad with the Bratunac Light Infantry Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, with having participated in persecution and murder and in guarding buildings in which Bosniaks from Srebrenica were detained after the fall of the UN protected zone.

The indictment charged them with participation in a joint criminal enterprise and crimes against humanity.

"The Appellate Chamber determined that the Trial Chamber correctly assessed the evidence and determined Blagojevic's criminal responsibility for inhumane acts and sentenced him to seven years in prison. The Trial Chamber correctly determined that, on the basis of presented evidence, the State Prosecution had not managed to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the criminal responsibility of Bozic, Zivanovic and Zaric," the State Court's announcement says.  

The announcement also states that the Appellate Chamber considers that the crimes were undoubtedly committed, but, in order for the indictees to be considered responsible for those crimes, "the Prosecution must have proved it, beyond reasonable doubt, but it has not done that in this concrete case".
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