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23 May 2008
News

Lelek: Thirteen years' imprisonment

BIRN BiH
The State Court has announced a guilty verdict on the basis of the first indictment for rape committed in Visegrad area.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced a first instance verdict against Zeljko Lelek, sentencing him to 13 years' imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed in Visegrad in 1992.

"The Trial Chamber considers this sentence to be adequate bearing in mind the severity of the committed crime," Trial Chamber Chairman Hilmo Vucinic explained.

On the basis of the evidence, as well as the analysis and crime scene inspections, the Chamber concluded that Lelek was guilty to three, out of four, counts in the indictment, which relate to deportation, rape, sexual abuse and unlawful detention of Bosniaks from Visegrad area.

Lelek was found guilty, as member of the reserve police forces, of having participated in the capture of Hasan Ahmetspahic and Nail Osmanbegovic from Crnca village in June 1992 and in the sexual abuse of Zejneba Osmanbegovic, who appeared as a witness at this trial.

He was also announced guilty of having raped two witnesses in June 1992. The two women were detained in pre-war spa "Vilina Vlas," which was turned into a kind of detention camp for women during the war. They both testified as Prosecution witnesses.

Most often the female detainees were brought by members of "Beli orlovi" ("White Eagles") Unit, which was commander by International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, indictee Milan Lukic.
He was also found guilty of the unlawful detention of civilians at the police station premises in Visegrad. However, he was acquitted of the charges, contained in a sub-count, that he abused a detainee.

Considering that it has not seen sufficiently convincing evidence, the Trial Chamber acquitted Lelek of the charges that he participated in the taking away and murder of a group of men on the Drina riverbank.

He was also acquitted of the charges that he participated in the deportation of th Tabakovic, Cocalic and Memisevic families. The Chamber determined that members of these families were certainly deported and that male family members were killed but the witnesses could not confirm that Zeljko Lelek was a participant.

The Chamber acquitted him of the charges, contained in two sub-counts, alleging that he participated in rape.

The Trial Chamber decided that the trial costs, referring to the convicting part of the verdict, are to be born by the indictee. The Court shall make a decision concerning the exact amount to be paid at a later stage.

The victims, who asked for reparation of material damage, were advised to file a lawsuit.

The trial of Zeljko Lelek began on May 2, 2007. He was arrested on May 5, 2006. The time he has spent in custody shall be calculated towards his sentence.

Prior to his arrest, Lelek was an active policeman in Visegrad. Following the arrest, Lelek was suspended from his workplace. This decision will be in force until the completion of the trial or announcement of a second instance verdict against him.

Both parties have the right to appeal the verdict.

The indictment against Lelek is the first one to deal with mass rapes in Visegrad.
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