The head of the Bosnian Muslim forces during the Balkan wars of the 1990s was today sentenced by a United Nations court to three years’ imprisonment over the cruel treatment his troops inflicted on Bosnian Serb soldiers captured during the conflict.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which sits in The Hague, found Rasim Delić guilty of failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent and punish the cruel treatment carried out by the El Mujahed Detachment of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The charge focused on crimes committed in Livade village and Kamenica camp in central Bosnia in July-August 1995, when 12 Bosnian Serb soldiers were subject to maltreatment by detachment members that included severe beatings and electric shocks.
The trial of Mr. Delić, who served as Commander of the Main Staff of the army, heard that the captured soldiers were also forced to kiss the severed heads of other detainees.
But the ICTY trial chamber acquitted Mr. Delić of three counts of murder and cruel treatment, relating to three separate incidents involving the detachment – which was comprised of foreign Muslim fighters – between 1993 and 1995. The detachment came into existence in August 1993 as the result of an order from Mr. Delić.
This included the killing of 24 Bosnian Croat civilians and soldiers by Mujahedin troops in the central Bosnian villages of Maline and Bikoši. The ICTY found that no superior-subordinate relationships existed between Mr. Delić and the troops at that time.
Announcing the sentence, the judges on the tribunal noted the appallingly brutal nature of the maltreatment against the captured soldiers, but also that Mr. Delić was found to have imputed, rather than actual, knowledge of these crimes.