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Lazarevic et al. case, Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 29 September 2008
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (last accessed on 23.09.2013)

On 29 September 2008 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina found four Bosnian Serbs, members of the reserve police forces of the Zvornik Public Security Station, guilty of "war crimes against civilians". The Court ruled that the accused, in the period from May 1992 until March 1993, acted contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law, in particular Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions, when civilians from the Zvornik municipality were unlawfully detained and inhumanely treated in the premises of the Misdemeanour Court and the building of DP Izvor, causing upon them serious suffering and the violation of their bodily integrity.

According to the Court, Mr. Lazarevic, as Deputy Warden of the prison, perpetrated, aided and abetted, and failed to prevent or punish the inhuman treatment of the unlawfully detained civilians, violating Article 173 (1) (c), with a mode of liability falling under Articles 29 (referring to accomplices), 31 (accessory) and 180 (2) (command responsibility) of the Criminal Code of BiH. He was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. According to the Court, on several occasions he permitted unauthorized persons – groups of Serb soldiers called Gogicevci and others to enter the prison grounds by unlocking the doors for them or by allowing other guards to do that without being punished, thus enabling these persons to torture and abuse the prisoners.

As for Mr. Stanojevic, a guard in the prison, the Court found he treated the detained civilians inhumanely, committing the criminal offence of "war crimes against civilians" referred to in Article 173 (1)(c), in conjunction with Article 29 (accomplices) of the Bosnian Criminal Code. He was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.

Two of the accused (Mile Markovic and Slobodan Ostojic), also guards at the prison, were too found guilty of treating detained civilians inhumanely, and were sentenced to five years of imprisonment each.

In all cases, the Court reasoned that the charge of inhuman treatment as a violation of the laws and customs of war was based on Article 173 of the Criminal Code, in conjunction with common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which sets forth a minimum core of mandatory rules and reflects the fundamental humanitarian principles. The trial panel also established that all the persons deprived of their liberty and imprisoned on the premises of the Misdemeanour Court and the building of DP Izvor, enjoyed protection under the Geneva Conventions at the time of their arrest.

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application/pdf 3,596 KB Lazarevic et al. case - Decision of 29 September 2008.pdf