Jezik / Language:
28 January 2011

Bundalo et al: Wrong Interpretation

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina asks the Appellate Chamber of the State Court to increase the sentence against Ratko Bundalo and Nedhi Zeljaja and sentence Djordjislav Askraba, who was previously acquitted of charges, for crimes committed in Kalinovik.

The Defence of Bundalo and Zeljaja appealed the first instance verdict on the grounds of violations of the Criminal Code and the pronounced sentence, proposing to the Court to revoke the verdict and acquit their clients of all charges.

The Appellate Chamber will render a decision concerning the appeals at a later stage.

Under the first instance verdict, pronounced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2009, Bundalo and Zeljaja were pronounced guilty, as deliberate participants in a joint criminal enterprise, of having persecuted people in Kalinovik area, by committing murders, arrests, forcible resettlement, causing of bodily injuries and pillaging of property, in the period from May 1992 to March 1993, when a broad and systematic attack was conducted in the area.

Askraba was acquitted of all charges. The Trial Chamber stressed it "has not been able to determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that he committed the crime charged upon him under the indictment".

"We consider that the sentences against Ratko Bundalo (19 years) and Nedjo Zeljaja (15 years) are short, because in this case we are talking, among other things, about permanent removal of the Muslim population, which formed nearly a half of the population in Kalinovik municipality," State Prosecutor
Munib Halilovic said, calling on the Court to pronounce longer imprisonment sentence against the indictees.

The Prosecutor asked the Court to convict Djordjislav Askraba, who was acquitted under the first instance verdict of the charges that he committed crimes in Kalinovik.

The indictment alleges that Bundalo was Commander of the Tactical Group in Kalinovik, Zeljaja was Commander of the Public Safety Station in that town and Askraba was Commander of Guards in "Barutni magacin" ("Gunpowder Depot").

"In his capacity as Commander of the Tactical Group in Kalinovik, Ratko Bundalo was responsible for the area where about a hundred civilians were killed and women, and even minor girls, were raped. About 300 people, mostly men, were detained in detention centers in Kalinovik area. Many of them were killed or disappeared," Halilovic said.

The Prosecutor said that, as Commander of the Public Safety Station, Zeljaja had a great power, adding that, although it was determined that he had helped some detainees, he did not use the powers for preventing numerous murders.

The Prosecution considers that Askraba was "in charge of prisoners" as Commander of Guards in a detention center and, in that capacity, executed crimes against them.

Vesna Tupajic Skiljevic, Defence attorney of Nedjo Zeljaja, said that the Trial Chamber "interpreted everything wrongly" in the first instance verdict, while Kresimir Zubak, Bundalo's Defence attorney, said the
indictees could not be pronounced guilty of participation in a joint criminal enterprise.

"The joint criminal enterprise term cannot be used in a verdict as it is not defined by law. The International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague introduced the joint criminal enterprise term in practice, so it has been imposed here as well," Zubak said.


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