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Bosnian court jails two former guards after referral from UN war crimes tribunal

Bosnian court jails two former guards after referral from UN war crimes tribunal

Two Bosnian Serb guards who persecuted non-Serbs at a prison camp during the Balkan wars of the 1990s have been convicted and sentenced to jail by a national court in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the case was transferred from the jurisdiction of a United Nations war crimes tribunal.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina yesterday sentenced Mitar Rašević to eight and a half years in prison and Savo Todović to 12 and a half years after finding them guilty of crimes and humanity.

Mr. Rašević was the guards’ commander and Mr. Todović was the deputy warden at a detention centre in Foca in south-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina that operated between April 1992 and October 1994. The court found that both men participating in setting up and maintaining a system of punishment and mistreatment of detainees, including the use of forced labour.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, indicted the two men in 1997, but the Tribunal ruled in September 2006 that it would refer the case to the court system of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Referring cases is part of the ICTY’s efforts to try to strengthen the rule of law across the region and enhance its partnership with judiciaries in the former Yugoslavia. Although the ICTY still tries the cases involving the most senior figures from the war, some intermediate and lower-rank accused have been referred to national courts.

So far, the Tribunal has referred six cases involving 10 accused to the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.