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12 July 2011
News

Lalovic and Skiljevic: Acquitted of Charges

BIRN BiH
The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina acquits Radoje Lalovic and Soniboj Skiljevic of the charges that they committed crimes against humanity in the “Butmir” Penal and Correctional Facility, near Sarajevo.

Lalovic and Skiljevic have been acquitted of the charges, because the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not determined, beyond reasonable doubt, that they committed the crimes charged upon them by the State Prosecution.
 
“The Court was in doubt whether there was a link between the indictees' actions and the crimes committed in “Butmir” Facility. For this reason, we have rendered a verdict of release.


From May 1992 to December 1995 horrible crimes were committed in “Butmir” Facility. Closest family members, all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and this Court are asking for the perpetrators to be punished. Those responsible may be punished through an additional effort,” Trial Chamber Chairman Senadin Bektasevic said, explaining the verdict.
 
According to the second instance verdict, Lalovic and Skiljevic are acquitted of having participated, in collaboration with members of military, police and political structures of the then Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a systematic joint criminal enterprise from May to December 1992 with the aim of persecuting, detaining civilians, intentionally depriving people of lives, torturing and forcing people to commit hard labour.
 
As stated under the verdict, Lalovic, former Manager of “Butmir” Facility, near Sarajevo, and Skiljevic, his Deputy, did not have an effective control over the work of that institution, where prisoners were accommodated and held in bad hygienic conditions, while receiving scarce meals and being deprived of medical protection.
 
“The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not proved that the indictees had discriminatory intentions. All of the witnesses, who were examined, spoke about the lack of food and space, also saying that the indictees treated prisoners in a correct manner. The witnesses said that indictee Skiljevic took one of the prisoners to a hospital where he got medical assistance, while Lalovic used to bring them cigarettes. Lalovic and Skiljevic warned the guards that the imprisoned persons must not be mistreated,” judge Bektasevic said.
 
The second instance verdict was rendered after the Appellate Chamber had accepted the appeals against the first instance verdict passed down by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
Under the verdict pronounced in June 2010, Lalovic was sentenced to five and Skiljevic to eight years in prison.
 
During the second instance trial not all of the previous witnesses' statements were heard or publicly read. The Trial Chamber accepted the proposal for presentation of a few new pieces of evidence.
 
Lalovic and Skiljevic have been acquitted of the charges that they made lists of prisoners, who were taken to other locations where they performed forced labour, including digging trenches, burying   victims and so on. Many of them were allegedly wounded or killed while doing it.
 
Under the second instance verdict the indictees have been acquitted of the charges that they failed to undertake any actions in order to prevent the taking of prisoners to unknown locations, where they were murdered.
 
Indictee Skiljevic has been acquitted of the charges that, while knowing that the Republika Srpska Army and police were conducting a widespread systematic attack, he failed to prevent the abuse of prisoners, many of whom were killed, or punish his subordinates in his capacity as Manager of the “Butmir” Facility in the period from mid December 1992 to the end of 1995.
 
Under the second instance verdict, Lalovic and Skiljevic are exempted from paying the trial costs, while the injured parties are advised to file civil suits in order to settle their property and legal claims.
 
The parties do not have the right to appeal the verdict.

E.M.

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