Jezik / Language:
15 June 2015

Martic Sentenced to a Year and Eight Months in Prison

Dženana Sivac BIRN BiH Zenica

The cantonal court in Zenica has found Mato Martic, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council, guilty of war crimes against the civilian population and prisoners of war in the Zepce area.

According to the indictment, Martic and another soldier escorted a group of prisoners to a location where there was enemy crossfire. The prisoners were ordered to dig trenches as Martic physically and mentally abused them.

“When they arrived and began digging the trenches, the detainees got caught in the crossfire. They lied down and began crawling. Martic ordered them to continue working. He opened fire and wounded two of them. He didn’t allow the others to help the wounded until the commander came and ordered someone to drive them away,” trial chamber chair Enes Malicbegovic said.

The cantonal court in Zenica also found Martic guilty of beating a prisoner named Izet Brutus with a rifle butt after encountering him on the street. Brutus, who was sent to several locations to perform hard labour, was returning from a work assignment when the beating took place.

Judge Malicbegovic said there were no doubts as to the locality of the crime and Martic’s position of power. Malicbegovic said the defense attempted to prove that Martic was only assigned civilian tasks, like shepherding cattle, and that the Zepacko crossroads couldn’t have been the location of the crime scene, due to the distribution of conflicting forces in the area and the configuration of the terrain.

Judge Malicbegovic said the sentence was proportionate to the gravity of the crimes and the circumstances in which they occurred, and also took into account Martic’s old age and poor health.

The parties have the right to file an appeal against the verdict with the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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