Jezik / Language:
7 April 2006

Samardzic sentenced to 13 years

Birn BiH
Bosnian Serb found guilty of multiple rape, beatings, murder and the sexual slavery of women in Foca.
The court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has found Nedjo Samardzic guilty of crimes against humanity committed in Foca, and sentenced him to 13 years and four months of imprisonment.

The court found Samardzic guilty on four out of ten counts of the indictment, which charged him with multiple rape, beatings, murder, and forced sexual slavery of women in Foca. The accused was also found guilty of crimes committed in the notorious "Karaman's house", where Bosniak women were detained.

The court ruled that Samardzic personally forced detained women to have sexual intercourse with him.One of these women, who was identified in court only as B.J. from Kalinovik, was a rape victim. Samardzic also raped "victim K and victim L, who was 15 at the time". He was also found guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl.

The court also decided that Samardzic was guilty of crimes committed in the village of Rataje near Foca. Two of the counts of the indictment that the court accepted concern crimes that Samardzic committed against the Grbo and Softic families from Rataje.

However, the court dismissed the other counts of the indictment on the grounds that "the prosecution failed to prove the responsibility of the accused beyond reasonable doubt".

Prosecutor Behaija Krnjic told Justice Report that he was disappointed by the ruling.

"I am not happy with fact that he was acquitted on some counts, nor with the duration of the prison sentence," said Krnjic.

He was unable to say for certain whether he would appeal against the ruling but said that that was very likely. His disappointment was shared by victims' representatives who were present when the court handed down the ruling.

"I am shocked by the court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we all supported," Bakira Hasecic, head of the Association of Women Victims of War, told Justice Report."With this ruling, the court has made us into victims all over again."

The trial of Samardzic was closed to the public from the outset because of the fears for the safety of witnesses.

Despite the fact that some witnesses wanted to publicly testify, representatives of the Women Victims of War Association told Justice Report that the courtroom doors were opened only when the two parties presented their closing arguments.

In the course of the trial 21 witnesses were questioned, while three were unable to testify for justified reasons.

During the trial the Prosecution dropped four counts, three were joined into one, so of the initial 17 counts, the new indictment was reduced to ten.

The prosecution asked the trial panel for a "lengthy prison sentence", believing that there were no mitigating circumstances that could result in a more lenient punishment. In his closing word prosecutor Krnjic noted that the defendant"expressed a high degree of ruthlessness when committing crimes,especially towards women".

The defence, however,tried to prove that Samardzic did not commit the crimes he was charged with, and asked for an acquittal. Claiming that the witnesses that testified in court failed to give a good description of the accused, that they did not "describe how rapes were committed, that there were no forced allocations of Bosniaks from the Foca municipality region, and that his client was not involved in the mass murders in that part of eastern Bosnia", defence counsel Milan Vujin tried to convince the panel that it should acquit the defendant.

Nedjo Samardzic, 38,was in the Foca correction facility serving an eight-year sentence for murder when the war broke out. He escaped from prison and joined the Republic of Srpska Army. The 13 year four month sentence handed down includes a term of more than a year for the pre-war killing.

Before his arrest at end of 2004, Samardzic had been living in Trebinje with his wife and two young children.
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