Jezik / Language:
24 March 2015

Five Years Imprisonment for Torture of Imam

Goran Obradović BIRN BiH Banja Luka

The district court of Banja Luka sentenced four people to a total of five years in prison for war crimes committed against the civilian population in Cela, near Prijedor, in March 1993.

Sretko Dragic was sentenced to two years in prison, while Zoran Torbica, Dalibor Jojic, and Dragan Gnjatic were each sentenced to one year in prison. They were found guilty of beating and torturing imam Adil Sola.

Trial chamber chairwoman Vesna Stankovic-Cosovic said the crime, and particularly the beating of imam Adil Sola, was committed in the manner described in the indictment. She said it was clear the defendants committed the crime as co-perpetrators. Stankovic-Cosovic said Dragic organized the crime, and as a result the court imposed a longer sentence on him.

“It has been undoubtedly proven that the situation in the village of Cela was difficult during the period when the crime was committed. There were many soldiers. There was shooting. Some people were taken to detention camps. At that time Solo didn’t belong to any armed formation or political party. He didn’t possess weapons, whereas the defendants were members of the army. They were uniformed and armed,” Stankovic-Cosovic said.

Stankovic-Cosovic described the how the court had deliberated with regards to the sentences. She said the court considered mitigating circumstances, such as the fact that crime occurred 22 years ago.

“Apart from that, the court also considered the following mitigating circumstances: the fact that they didn’t commit any other crimes prior to or after that event, the fact that they were young at the time, and that Torbica and Gnjatic are family men,” Stankovic-Cosovic said.

According to the verdict, in March 1993 the defendants went to a house in Cela. They knew Solo was in that house, and started shooting. Solo then jumped through a window and began running away.

“They caught him and beat him, while he was lying on the ground. Dragic then sat on top of him and hit him several times. He carved a cross on his forehead with a knife. They escorted him to the house, where they continued to beat, torture, and threaten him. They asked Solo to transport a truck of humanitarian aid, which Solo had brought from Zagreb, to their village of Sanicani,” the trial chamber determined.

The parties have the right to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court of Republika Srpska.

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