13 May 2008 A Bosnian Croat military commander, found guilty of committing crimes against Bosnian Muslims in the area around Mostar, was today transferred to a jail in Italy to serve out the remainder of his 18-year sentence, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced.
Vinko Martinović, also known as Stela, had served as commander of a sub-unit of the Convicts’ Battalion, which was a military unit within the Croatian Defence Council.
In March 2003 Mr. Martinović was convicted by the ICTY for persecutions, inhumane acts, inhumane treatment, unlawful labour, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, murder, wilful killing, unlawful transfer of a civilian and plunder, and was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.
Mr. Martinović was personally involved in the forcible removal of Bosnian Muslims from the west bank of Mostar, leaving that side of the town “completely rid of Muslims.”
The Muslims, including many women, children and the elderly, were forced out of their homes at gunpoint and their homes were looted. Many Muslim civilians from Mostar were rounded up and placed in a detention camp, where they were forced to dig trenches or carry wounded and dead soldiers, and serve as human shields on the front line.
Italy is one of 15 European countries that have signed an agreement with the ICTY to enforce sentences imposed by the Tribunal on convicted individuals.
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