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5 February 2010
News

A Total of 40 Years for Vlasenica Crimes

BIRN BiH
The first instance Chamber of the State Court has sentenced Predrag Bastah to 22 and Goran Viskovic to 18 years in prison for crimes against humanity committed in the Vlasenica area.
The Trial Chamber determined that Bastah, as a reserve policeman with the Public Safety Station in Vlasenica, and Viskovic, as a member of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Army, participated in a broad and systematic attack "aimed against the non-Serb civilians" in that municipality from April to September 1992.

"The indictees are found guilty of crimes against humanity because the Chamber has determined that the Prosecution proved the general elements of the crime when presenting evidence. It also proved the existence of a broad a systematic attack conducted by the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Army and police, as well as the fact that the victims and injured parties were civilians, which means that they belonged to a protected population category," Trial Chamber Chairman Zoran Bozic said.

Bastah was found guilty of nine out of 16 counts in the indictment, which charged him with participation in "unlawful detention, forcible disappearances and resettlement of the population", as well as the murder of civilians Mujo Klanco and Tifa and Zejna Ambeskovic.

"The Prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the first indictee's responsibility for the counts charging him with murder. The Court considers that the witnesses' statements show continuity and lead to a clear conclusion pertaining to the indictee's responsibility as an accomplice in the murder," Bozic said, adding that Bastah was acquitted of the charge that he participated in the murder of Zahid Klempic in May 1992.

By the first instance verdict, Viskovic was found guilty of 11 counts and acquitted of eight counts in the indictment. Among other things, Viskovic was sentenced for the rape of witness O8 and Jasmina Huremovic. He was acquitted of the charge that he raped protected witness O6.

Bastah and Viskovic were found guilty of having captured Ibrahim Lelo in Jarovlje village, Vlasenica municipality, in June 1992 and taken him from Susica detention camp. Lelo "has been missing since then".

Determining the sentence, the Court took into consideration, as mitigating circumstances, the fact that both indictees are "family men" and the fact that they "provided support to Bosniaks" during the course of the war.

"The witnesses described the indictees by saying that the Muslim population in Vlasenica was afraid of them, referring to the vehicles they drove as the vehicles of death. The Court determined their behaviour had an inhumane character, which is considered an aggravating circumstance," Bozic said.

The trial of Bastah and Viskovic began in June 2008.
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