The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Section I, on 29 June 2009 acquitted Mr. Ferid Hodzic of committing war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war in the hamlet of Rovasi, near Cerska, in the Municipality of Vlasenica, contrary to the criminal code of Bosnia and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The acts in question were committed between May 1992 and January 1993.
Mr. Hodzic was charged with ordering ethnic Serb civilians and prisoners of war to be unlawfully detained, and treated inhumanely for months – particularly through very harsh conditions of detention, little food and water, no electricity or access to restrooms nor differentiation between male and female detainees, as well as being victims to constant beatings by Bosnian soldiers. Mr. Hodzic was also accused of the death of a civilian held in custody, apparently from the injuries resulting from these beatings. He was charged under command responsibility, specifically for failing to prevent the murder or punish the perpetrators.
In its judgment, the Court found that the prisoners had indeed suffered frequent beatings and insults, and were held in detention conditions amounting to cruel treatment under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and inhuman treatment under the Criminal Code of Bosnia. However, the Court heard no evidence to hold that Mr. Hodzic had ordered the commission of such acts. Further, the Court found impossible to assert who or what authority was responsible for the detention of the prisoners and civilians, as much of the information was either incomplete or contradictory. In effect, no finding was made of a military command or chain of command for the area, leaving the Court with no choice but to acquit the suspect of all charges in the indictment.