Belgrade Appeals Court. Photo: bg.ap.sud.rs
The head of the Association of Families of Detained and Missing Persons from Zvornik Municipality, Ahmet Grahic, expressed dissatisfaction with the reduced sentences given to the three Serb ex-paramilitaries, but said that finding the victims who are still missing should be the main priority.
“Punishment cannot be evaded. I can say I would not mind seeing their sentences being reduced by two or three years in return for them revealing the locations of graves, so we could find the remaining 450 people from the Zvornik municipality who are still being searched for,” Grahic told BIRN.
“Our first priority is to find the missing. It is up to the institutions and prosecution to do the rest,” he added.
Belgrade Appeals Court announced on Tuesday that it had reduced the sentences of three Bosnian Serb fighters for crimes committed in 1992 in the village of Malesic in the Bosnian municipality of Zvornik.
Two members of the ‘Sima’s Chetniks’ paramilitary group, Tomislav Gavric and Zoran Djurdjevic, had their sentences reduced from 10 to eight years in prison, while a third member, Zoran Alic, was given five instead of six years.
They were convicted of keeping three women captive in the village of Malesic in 1992, where they repeatedly raped and abused them and forced them to make food and clean for them.
The appeals court meanwhile upheld the not-guilty verdicts handed down to three others, Dragana Djekic, Damir Bogdanovic and Djordje Sevic. Djekic is also currently being tried for the abduction and killings of 20 non-Serb civilians from a train in the Bosnian town of Strpci in 1993.
The first instance verdict in 2015 found all of the defendants not guilty of the crimes in Malesic, but an Appeals Court partially overturned the verdict in 2018, convicting Gavric, Djurdjevic and Alic.
Since the second-instance court overturned the verdict at the expense of the defendants, they had the right to one more appeal.
The verdict announced on Tuesday, which was rendered on February 13 but not made public until this week, is final.
Murat Tahirovic, the head of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide, said he was satisfied because the case had ended with convictions, considering the three men were initially acquitted.
“Considering the length of the sentences and bearing in mind some other cases, even some conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they have at least been sentenced for war crimes as perpetrators of that act,” Tahirovic told BIRN.