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13 April 2010
News

Suljo Karajic Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

BIRN BiH
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina finds Suljo Karajic guilty of crimes against prisoners-of-war and civilians committed in the Bihac District and sentences him to a unified sentence of 18 years' imprisonment.D W
By the first instance verdict Karajic was sentenced, as a member of the Fifth Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for murder, inhumane treatment, unlawful detention, and causing bodily injury to civilians and former members of the National Defence of the Western Bosnia Autonomous Region, ND WBAR.

Karajic was sentenced to 14 years in prison for war crimes against prisoners-of-war and 11 years for war crimes against civilians. The Court pronounced a unified sentence of 18 years in prison.  

The indictee was found guilty of the charges contained in seven out of ten counts. Among other things, he was found guilty of the murder of Amir Karajic, known as Kolac, on August 4, 1994, and the murder of another ND WBAR member, whom he took out of the Detention Unit of the Police Station Section in Vrnograc, Velika Kladusa municipality, and shot in December 1994.  

By the first instance verdict Karajic was sentenced for having "unlawfully detained", in December 1994, and "ordered his subordinates to arrest civilians who, as he assumed, supported the WBAR idea", in the school building in Todorovska Slapnica, where some of them were killed and some were exposed to inhumane treatment and torture.  

"Due to lack of evidence", the Trial Chamber acquitted Karajic of the charges alleging that he cut off an ND WBAR member's head using a handsaw, in Trnovi village, and put it on a stick, which he then hammered into the ground, and "verbally attacked and physically mistreated" the Commander of the Municipal Headquarters with the Civil Protection Unit in Velika Kladusa in February 1995.  

Explaining the verdict, Trial Chamber Chairman Davorin Jukic said the sentence that was handed down should achieve "the social condemnation of the crimes committed by the indictee", adding that the sentence should also influence other people so that they do not commit the same crimes and it should be proportionate to the level of the victims' suffering.

"When it made its decision about the sentence, the Court was guided by aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The aggravating circumstances include an extreme persistence in committing crimes, while the mitigating circumstances include his behaviour in court, his poor health, and the fact that he is a father of two who does not have a previous criminal record," Judge Jukic said.

The time Karajic has spent in custody, from October 17, 2007, will be calculated towards his sentence.

The indictee was exempted from paying the trial costs. The Court advised the injured parties to file civil suits for settlement of eventual property and legal claims.  

As explained, the Trial Chamber partially accepted the expert testimony regarding the indictee's accountability, saying he was in a state of heightened sensitivity and his ability to understand the criminal nature of his actions was significantly reduced. The reason the expert findings were only partially accepted was that they were arrived at 15 years after the crime was committed and were based on an interview with the indictee only.

The parties have the right to appeal the verdict.
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