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19 September 2007
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Lucic Jailed for Six Years

BIRN BiH
Kreso Lucic is found guilty on three of the four counts contained in the indictment that charged him with crimes committed in Kresevo in 1993.
On behalf of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Court of BiH has pronounced Kreso Lucic
(1969) guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him, by a first instance verdict, to six years' imprisonment.

In the four counts contained in the indictment, Lucic was charged - on the basis of individual responsibility - with crimes committed as commander of Military Police of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) on the territory of Kresevo municipality during the conflict with the Army of BiH in 1993.

He was convicted of three counts in the indictment, but was acquitted of the fourth.

Lucic was found guilty of unlawfully depriving Bosniak civilians of their freedom in the villages of Rakova Noga, Crnici, Bjelovici, Bukve and Ramici, and the detention of civilians in the detention camps in Kresevo area. He has also been pronounced guilty of torture and beating of civilians. But the Court concluded that the Prosecution has not presented evidence that "beyond reasonable doubt" can prove his guilt concerning the charges for maltreatment of Meho Hodzic.

"In his earlier statements this witness did not mention Kreso Lucic's name. The two other Prosecution witnesses who confirmed that Hodzic had been beaten up were not able to say who had done it," Trial Chamber Chairman Davorin Jukic explained.

Although the Criminal Code of BiH prescribes a ten-year sentence as the minimal punishment for crimes against humanity, the Court of BiH, after considering a range of mitigating circumstances, has pronounced a less severe sentence.

It has been explained that a particular mitigating circumstance is the fact that Lucic voluntarily surrendered to the local authorities and that he did not use the opportunity to escape to Croatia, although he has citizenship of that country and a permanent place of residence there.

The Court has also considered, as a mitigating circumstance, the fact that Lucic was young at the time he committed the crimes, and that "he was too young for the responsibilities he undertook as a commander".

In its decision, the Court has reiterated, a few times, that Lucic was not charged on the basis of command but on the basis of personal responsibility. It has therefore rejected all allegations and statements of witnesses referring to the fact that he issued orders or had influence on the actions performed by other soldiers.

"The Court knows very well that Lucic is not charged on the basis of command responsibility," Judge Jukic pointed out.

It has also been explained that the Prosecution has not been able to prove that Lucic was responsible for the functioning of the detention camp or for the conditions in which the detainees were held. He was also not responsible for the forced labour of the detainees.

"He is not responsible for the actions of other people. He can also not be held responsible for the activities performed by his subordinates as he is not charged on the basis of command responsibility," the Trial Chamber explained.

Kreso Lucic was held in custody from 24 July 2006 to 19 January 2007. The Court then rendered a decision allowing him to defend himself while on bail and ordering him to report to a police station in his place of residence. The same order shall remain in force until any appeal has been heard and a legally-binding verdict pronounced.

Both parties to the proceeding have the right to appeal. The Defence has already announced that it will appeal against the verdict as a whole.

"I must say I am very pleased because half of the counts contained in the indictment have been rejected by this verdict," Defence attorney Kresimir Zubak said.
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