A Belgrade court found former Bosnian Serb reservist policeman Milorad Jovanovic guilty of torturing civilians in Bosnia in 1992 and sentenced him to nine years in prison in a retrial.

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Serbia Again Convicts Bosnian Serb Ex-Policeman of Torturing Prisoners

Belgrade Higher Court. Photo: BIRN

Belgrade Higher Court found Milorad Jovanovic guilty on Friday of torturing non-Serb civilian prisoners, one of whom died as a consequence, who were being detained at the Simo Miljus Memorial Museum in Lusci Palanka in the Sanski Most area of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the summer of 1992. The court sentenced him to nine years in jail.

The verdict repeated his sentence in his first trial in February 2021, which the Belgrade Appeal Court dismissed, ordering a retrial

Judge Vinka Beraha Nikicevic said the court took into account that it could not question all the relevant witnesses.

“They were called to testify directly or via a video conference, but this was not possible,” Nikicevic said, noting that some of them had died meanwhile, while others live in Germany or Switzerland and could not be found.

“Even without their presence [as witnesses], we had witnesses who testified and were decisive that Milorad Jovanovic did what he is accused of,” she added.

According to the indictment, the Bosnian Serb reservist policeman together with his commander Slavko Vukovic, who has since died, and other unnamed police officers, forcibly brought non-Serbs from villages near Sanski Most in June and July 1992 to the museum in Lusci Palanka where they were held.

In order to get information from them about possession of weapons or about a group allegedly resisting Bosnian Serb forces, Jovanovic hit the prisoners with his fists, a shotgun and other objects, kicked them, tied them to chairs or to beams on the ceiling and beat them.

He also forced one of the prisoners, Dedo Dervisevic, to be baptised as an Orthodox Christian, and made him crawl on the floor and kiss his boots. Dervisevic died as a result of the beating.

At the beginning of the trial, Jovanovic denied that he beat or hurt prisoners. He said he did hit one civilian prisoner several times but insisted the blows were “not strong” and the victim was not injured as a result.

Jovanovic was indicted in 2015 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Courts in Serbia took over the case in 2017. This verdict is a first-instance ruling and can be appealed.

Source link: balkaninsight.com