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20 January 2011

Ten Year Prison Sentence for Sefik Alic

The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina pronounced Sefik Alic, former member of the Fifth Corps with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, guilty of crimes committed in the Bosnian Krajina area and sentenced him to ten years in prison.

As per the second instance verdict, Alic, former Assistant Commander for Security with the Hamze Battalion, was found guilty of having participated in the abuse of four captured members of the Serbian Krajina Army and failing to prevent their murder in August 1995.

The verdict pronounced by the Appellate Chamber says that the four prisoners were killed by Saudi citizen Tewfik Al Harbi, who was an irregular member of the Fifth Corps.

“It is indisputable that Alic was responsible for the prisoners bearing in mind his function within the Battalion. He demonstrated it by examining the prisoners.

"Though the murders were committed by Tewfik Al Harbi, just like any other reasonable person Alic must have known that this man represented a threat to the lives of those prisoners and his duty was to stop him,” Appellate Chamber Chairman Hilmo Vucinic said.

The parties have the right to file an appeal to the verdict with the third instance chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the fact that Alic was acquitted of the charges under the first instance verdict and pronounced guilty under the second instance.

Under the first instance verdict, pronounced in April 2008, Alic was acquitted of the charges for crimes committed in Bosnian Krajina, but the Appellate Chamber revoked the verdict. The retrial began in April last year.

Explaining the second instance verdict, Vucinic said that the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina had proved, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, that Alic was present when the four members of the Serbian Krajina Army were captured and he participated in their questioning.

“The indictee's personal attitude during the course of the examination of these prisoners, while Tewfik Al Harbi acted in a threatening and aggressive manner, demonstrated his readiness to deprive these persons of their lives. Not only did Alic fail to present the abuse and beating of the prisoners, but he personally joined the others on two occasions,” Vucinic said.

The Appellate Chamber considers that the fact that Tewfik Al Harbi was “an irregular soldier” does not relieve Alic of his responsibility, but it “accentuates his obligation to protect them”.

“In a situation like that, he should have ensured better protection of the prisoners from that person. There is not a single piece of evidence confirming he tried to prevent the crime. The Defence did not try to prove that Alic did anything to prevent Tewfik. He never even informed anyone about the crime. In that way, he further breached his duties,” Vucinic said.

In reaching its decision on the ten-year prison sentence, the Appellate Chamber Chairman said that the Chamber considered “Alic's young age at the time when the crime was committed and the fact that he had just been appointed an assistant commander for security” as mitigating circumstances.

Following the pronouncement of the verdict, Alic was ordered into custody that may last for a maximum of 15 months. Under the second instance verdict he was also ordered to pay the criminal proceedings costs.

D.Dž.

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