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24 May 2010
News

Seven People Awaiting Verdicts at Liberty

BIRN BiH

Seven people awaiting the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to pronounce second instance verdicts in cases that have been brought against them are currently at liberty. They were sentenced, by first instance verdicts, to between five and 14 years in prison for war crimes.

While waiting for the pronouncement of a second instance verdict, Momir Savic, former Commander of the Third Company with the Visegrad Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, who was sentenced for crimes against humanity committed in Visegrad, fled on Friday, May 21. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Savic was sentenced by a second instance verdict to 17 years in prison. He was at liberty since December 2008, when certain prohibiting measures were ordered against him. Despite the fact that he failed to attend the pronouncement of the first instance verdict in July 2009, the Trial Chamber did not order him into custody.

"At this moment it is not necessary to order him into custody and thus ensure his presence. So far, the prohibiting measures have proved to be adequate," Trial Chamber Chairman Saban Maksumic said at the time.

In February 2010 Savic appeared before the Appellate Chamber. During the presentation of first instance verdict appeals, he said his "conscience was clear" as he had not committed any of the actions listed in the indictment.

Mirko Todorovic, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for participation in crimes against humanity committed in Bratunac, fled after the pronouncement of the second instance verdict in the spring of 2009. Todorovic was allowed out of custody prior to the pronouncement of the second instance verdict, as he had spent nine months in custody. By law, a person can be held in custody for a maximum of nine months after the pronouncement of the first instance verdict against him.

The Parliamentary Assembly adopted changes to the Law on Criminal Proceedings of Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2009 as a response to the frequent cases of indictees fleeing after the pronouncement of verdicts against them. According to the changes, individuals sentenced to more than five years in prison must be taken into custody immediately after the pronouncement of the first instance verdicts against them.

Nevertheless, these measures cannot be applied to individuals who were sentenced prior to the adoption of the changes. We are told by the State Ministry of Justice that Savic, Todorovic and seven others are among those who have been sentenced without being taken into custody.

Milko Mucibabic, who was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for crimes committed in Nevesinje, Miodrag Nikacevic, sentenced to eight years in prison for crimes committed in Foca, Sreten Lazarevic, Dragan Stanojevic, Mile Markovic and Slobodan Ostojic, who were sentenced to a total of 27 years in prison for crimes committed in Zvornik, and Mirko Vracevic, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for crimes committed in Vojno, near Mostar, are defending themselves while at liberty.

The indictees are awaiting the pronouncement of second instance verdicts before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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