Court releases Bosnian Croat commander accused of war crime

Court releases Bosnian Croat commander accused of war crime

Court releases Bosnian Croat commander accused of war crime Izvor: Duško Jaramaz/PIXSELL, Ilustracija

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina dismissed the charges of crimes against humanity during the 1992-94 Croat-Bosniak war against the former commander of the 2nd military battalion of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) in Mostar, Milo Puljic.

Darko Samardzic, who presided over a panel of judges, said that the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to prove that Puljic, as the commander of the HVO 2nd battalion, participated in large-scale, systemic attacks within the joint criminal enterprise, with the aim of expanding the self-proclaimed Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia (HZHB), the Bosnian Croat state formed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

The Croat-Bosniak war, a conflict between the Sarajevo-controlled Bosnian army and the HVO, military units of HZHB, lasted from the autumn of 1992 to early 1994.

“The duty of the prosecution was to offer indisputable evidence for each claim. According to the panel, (simultaneous) charges for joint criminal enterprise and for accomplice to crime, according to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s criminal law, can not coexist, because they cancel each other out,” said Samardzic, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), which monitors court procedures, reported.

The dismissed charges said that Puljic had authorised his subordinates to force the Bosniak prisoners of war to go to the front line and to form a human shield, as well as take part in forced disappearances and beatings of other prisoners.

After the decision, which is not final and can be appealed, travel restrictions previously placed on Puljic were lifted.

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