Belgrade court acquitted former Bosnian Serb Army soldier Boban Pop Kostic of torturing a Bosniak civilian in the Luka prison camp during the war in 1992.
The Belgrade-based Higher Court ruled on Thursday that there was not enough evidence to convict Pop Kostic of torturing and ill-treating Bosniak civilian Muhamed Bukvic, who was imprisoned in detention camp Luka in Brcko, Bosnia in Herzegovina.
“There is no reliable evidence that the accused Boban Pop Kostic committed a war crime against civilians,” presiding judge Vera Vukotic said.
Vukotic said none of the witnesses who testified at the year-long trial had “direct knowledge that the accused hurt or tortured Muhamed Bukvic”.
This is the second time that the Higher Court has ruled on this case. In March this year, it sentenced Pop Krstic to two years in prison, but an appeal sent the case to retrial due to legal errors.
Vukotic said that unlike in the first trials, the court had now managed to hear the testimony of the tortured Bukvic via video link, as he is currently living in Australia.
But despite that, according to Vukotic, the trial chamber couldn’t rely on his testimony due to his “psychological illness”.
The judge also said there were inconsistences in his statements given to the Serbian court during the trial, in 1997 to the Bosnian prosecution, and in 2010 to the Australian authorities.
From May 1992 until early July 1992, Serb forces held hundreds of Bosniaks and Croats at the Luka detention camp, a warehouse facility on the Sava River, in inhumane conditions and under armed guard with detainees being systematically killed.
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Goran Jelisic, who called himself Serb Adolf, to 40 years in prison for murder, cruel treatment and plunder at the camp.
Thursday’s verdict can be appealed within the next 15 days.
Source: Balkan Insight