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12 February 2008

Milanovic Case Referred to Cantonal Court in Sarajevo


The Court of BiH has made a decision to refer the Mladen Milanovic case to the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo.

Acting on a motion filed by the Prosecution of BiH, the Court of BiH has rendered a decision to refer the "Mladen Milanovic" case to the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo for further processing.

This is the second time the Court of BiH has decided to refer a case to a lower court. The first decision concerned the case of Boro Milojica and it was rendered in August 2006. The same year, Milojica was  processed and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for crimes committed in Hegici village near Prijedor.

According to the existing legal regulations, the Court of BiH is competent to decide at which level the war crime trials shall be conducted.

In its motion, filed with the Court of BiH, the Prosecution requested referral of the Milanovic case due to "lack of personnel" in the Prosecution and Court, as well as "the large number of cases which are still in an investigation phase" and the fact that all witnesses live in the area under the jurisdiction of the Cantonal Court.

In its decision of January 10 this year, the Court of BiH indicated that it appreciated the Prosecution's proposal, which was "based on reasons related to cost-efficiency, effectiveness of the process and non-complexity of the case". It further stressed that the indictee's Defence attorney was in agreement with the proposal.

"The Court finds the Prosecutor's allegations that this is not a complex case, as the indictee is charged with one criminal action only, to be correct," the decision indicates. It further says that the consequences of the crime charged upon Milanovic "are less severe than those generated by most other war crimes processed before the Court of BiH".

The indictment, confirmed by the Court of BiH in December 2007, alleges that Milanovic, as a member of military forces of the former Serbian Republic of BiH, physically maltreated a prisoner in the "Bunker" detention camp in Semizovac, where he was a guard, in 1992. In addition, he is charged with having "enabled members of military and paramilitary groups to enter the detention camp and physically and mentally maltreat the prisoners".

As per a warrant issued by the state Prosecution, Milanovic was  arrested on July 28 last year. He has been held in custody since then.

To date, the Court of BiH has sentenced Dragan Damjanovic to a long-term imprisonment of 20 years for crimes committed in detention camps in Vogosca, while Borislav Herak and Sretko Damjanovic were sentenced by the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo to 20 years' imprisonment each for crimes committed on the territory of this municipality.
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