Jezik / Language:
14 December 2006

Samardzic gets 24-year jail sentence


In the re-trial of Nedjo Samardzic, the Appeals Chamber sentenced him to 24 years' imprisonment for crimes committed in Foca.

After holding a re-trial for Nedjo Samardzic, the Bosnian court's Appeals Chamber sentenced him to 24 years' imprisonment for crimes committed during 1992 and 1993 in Foca.

The indictee was found guilty of nine of the indictment's ten counts, which charged him with murder, illegal detention, deportation, rape and sexual slavery as well as other crimes against humanity.

Samardzic was convicted of multiple rapes of Bosniak women committed in locations including the notorious Karaman House, where he kept multiple women in detention. His victims included underage girls, the youngest of who was 12 years old.

The Court found that, in June 1992, Samardzic and a group of soldiers beat and raped a woman in the village of Stovic, Foca municipality.  Then he and his brother Zoran took a female person out of the house to "Miljevina" hotel, also in Foca municipality, where she was raped more than once during a seven-day period.

Between June and August 1992, Samardzic, Radovan Stankovic and Nikola Brcic kept more than one woman of Bosniak nationality in sexual slavery in the so-called Karaman House located in Miljevina, Foca municipality. These women were forced to have sex as well as take part in physical labour.

During the same period, Samardzic raped more than one woman of Bosniak nationality in an apartment in Miljevina and other locations.

In the explanation of the verdict, it reads that the Karaman House "had all the elements of a detention camp for women" where "camp inmates represented legitimate spoils of war".

In the indictment, Samardzic is also charged that on September 3, 1992 he and other members of army and police expelled the Bosniak population from Miljevina, Foca municipality, and relocated them to the Partizan hall in Foca where they were exposed to abuse and robbery.

The appeals judges acquitted Samardzic of taking part in the physical abuse and beating of civilians who were brought by bus in to Miljevina in August 1992, then taken in the direction of the Miljevina mine and killed in Sljivovica.  The Chamber ruled, "there is not enough evidence to reliably determine that the indictee participated in the listed acts".

Judges stressed that they had taken mitigating circumstances into account, in particular the fact that the indictee "is father to underage children".

The indictee was previously convicted of murder, which the Appeals Chamber took as an aggravating circumstance as well as the fact that he took part in "many acts of exceptional cruelty".

After the verdict was announced, defence attorney Slavisa Prodanovic said that the punishment is "not a result of evidence but of pressure" on the Bosnian court, and that the indictee "was not tried in accordance with the law that was in effect at the time when the crime was committed".

Representatives of Association Women Victims of War were present when the verdict was announced; they commented that the verdict is "satisfactory" although they expected a more severe punishment.

"Considering verdicts given in other cases, we are satisfied," an Association representative told BIRN.

During the first-instance process, Nedjo Samardzic was sentenced to 13 years and four months imprisonment. However, after both the prosecution and the defence appealed to that decision, a decision was taken to hold a re-trial on the grounds that "the facts were not correctly determined" during the first process.

The new process began at the end of November and, during the nine days of its duration, statements of both prosecution and defence witnesses were read or played to the court, and physical evidence was presented.

Audio records of testimonies of 20 prosecution witnesses were played, while the defence offered transcripts of testimonies of six witnesses from the first-instance process.

In their closing arguments, which both sides presented on December 8, the prosecution proposed a long jail sentence for the indictee, while the defence, believing that he is innocent, proposed an acquittal.

The time Samardzic spent in detention, starting from October 2004, will be calculated into the jail sentence.
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