UN tribunal partially overturns convictions of two Bosnian Muslim commanders

22 April 2008 –

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today partially overturned the convictions and reduced the jail sentences given to two former high-level commanders in Bosnia and Herzegovina whose forces murdered and mistreated captured Bosnian Croats and Serbs in 1993.

Enver Hadžihasanović will now serve three years and six months in prison – down from the original term of five years – and the sentence for Amir Kubura has been reduced by six months to two years after the ruling by the appeals chamber of the ICTY, which sits in The Hague.

Mr. Hadžihasanović, 57, was commander of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH) Third Corps and Mr. Kubura, 44, was commander of the Corps’ Seventh Muslim Mountain Brigade, which operated in central Bosnia in mid-1993 as a band of Mujahedin forces recruited from other countries.

While the ICTY today upheld many of the war crimes convictions made by the trial chamber in 2006, it reversed several findings, including one that Mr. Hadžihasanović had failed to punish those responsible for the murder of Mladen Havranek and the cruel treatment of six prisoners held at a furniture salon in Bugojno on 5 August 1993. The judges said the measures taken by the commander were reasonable in the circumstances.

The ICTY also found that the El Mujahedin detachment was sufficiently separate from the ABiH that it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Hadžihasanović had effective control over it. Mr. Kubura had a conviction overturned that he had failed to sufficiently punish those who plundered four villages in June 1993.

Meanwhile, the Tribunal’s trial chamber today granted temporary provisional release to Milivoj Petkovic, a former senior Bosnian Croat figure on trial with five others in what is known as the ‘Prlic and others’ case, on humanitarian grounds. The leave is to be taken before the defence case is scheduled to begin on 5 May.

The men, former high-level leaders in the Bosnian Croat wartime entity known as Herceg-Bosna, stand accused of war crimes committed in 1992 and 1993 against Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats in south-western and central Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially the municipalities of Prozor, Gornji Vakuf, Jablanica, Mostar, Ljubuški, Stolac, Capljina and Vareš.

The many charges include murder, rape, unlawful deportation, imprisonment, cruel treatment, unlawful labour, the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds.

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