The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Section I for War Crimes, following the deliberation and acceptance of a Guilty Plea Agreement concluded between the accused and the State Prosecutor's Office, delivered, on 29 October 2009, a first instance verdict confirming Mr. Maric's guilt for the criminal offence of war crimes against civilians and sentenced him to fifteen years of imprisonment.
Zoran Maric was accused of being a member of an organized group of armed people, the Army of Republika Srpska, which rounded up Bosniak civilians and killed them during the armed conflict in the territory of Jajce municipality between the Army of Republika Srpska and the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and HVO (Croat Defence Council).
As established by the Court, on 10 September 1992, the accused acted in violation of article 3 (1)(a) and (c), common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and article 147 (on grave breaches) of the fourth Geneva Convention related to the protection of civilian persons. In terms of Bosnian penal law, Mr. Maric's offences were found to fall under the criminal offence of War Crimes against Civilians as defined in Article 173 (1)(c) – killings, intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon a person (torture, inhuman treatment) - in conjunction with Articles 29 (Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Article 29 – Accomplices: If several persons who, by participating in the perpetration of a criminal offence or by taking some other act by which a decisive contribution has been made to its perpetration, have jointly perpetrated a criminal offence, shall each be punished as prescribed for the criminal offence. and 180 (1) Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Article 180 - Individual Criminal Responsibility. (1) A person who planned, instigated, ordered, perpetrated or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of a criminal offence referred to in Article 171 (Genocide), 172 (Crimes against Humanity), 173 (War Crimes against Civilians), 174 (War Crimes against the Wounded and Sick), 175 (War Crimes against Prisoners of War), 177 (Unlawful Killing or Wounding of the Enemy), 178 (Marauding the Killed and Wounded at the Battlefield) and 179 (Violating the Laws and Practices of Warfare) of this Code, shall be personally responsible for the criminal offence. The official position of any accused person, whether as Head of State or Government or as a responsible Government official person, shall not relieve such person of criminal responsibility nor mitigate punishment) of the Criminal Code of BiH.
The Court found that the applicability of the 2003 Criminal Code and its system of penalties to the case – adopted after the commission of the crimes – did not violate the principle of legality because the crime for which the accused was found guilty - war crimes against civilians- constitutes a criminal offence under the "general principles of international law." Resorting to this source of law is possible under Article 4a of the Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code of BiH (and pursuant to Articles 3 and 4 of the CC of BiH), and under Article 7 of the ECHR. This position has been confirmed by the BiH Court practice so far (First and Second instance verdict in the case of Dragoje Paunovic, no. X-KR-05/16, 26 May 2006) as well as the Decision of the BiH Constitutional Court in the case Abduladhim Maktouf (Decision on admissibility and merits of the BiH Constitutional Court in the case of Abduladhim Maktouf, no. AP 1785/06, 30 March 2007).