IN THE PERIOD 2014-2020 THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA ISSUED INDICTMENTS AGAINST 612 PERSONS FOR CRIMINAL OFFENCES OF WAR CRIMES AND SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW05.08.2021. 13:44
The Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH (SDWC) is a department with a total of 28 prosecutors who work with professional staff, legal officers and investigators (there is a total of about 110 employees together with prosecutors who are employed in the SDWC).
In the period from 2014 to 2020, indictments were filed in 263 cases against a total of 612 persons, which is about 70% of the total number of indictees (910) for war crimes, which means that the work in this period exceeded by far the results achieved in the first 10 years of operation of this Department.
In parallel with these activities, investigators and professional staff took part and conducted a large number of exhumations and searches for the remains of missing persons in all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, often in extremely inaccessible and unsafe locations, throughout the year and in all weather conditions.
Also, by order of the Chief Prosecutor, the remains in 12 ossuaries and mortuaries were reviewed with the aim of identifying the remains found and identifying missing persons throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The indictments issued in the period from 2014 to 2020 cover some of the most serious war crimes committed in the area of Prijedor, Srebrenica, Doboj, Teslić, Zvornik, Brčko, Vlasenica, Višegrad, Foča, Konjic, Orašje, Čapljina, Mostar, Sarajevo, Sanski Most, Bugojno, Donji Vakuf, Bosanski Novi and other towns throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Although the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH does not have a practice of national counting of cases and indictees, due to inappropriate statements of some officials we can point out that the indictments referred to perpetrators of war crimes from all ethnic groups and all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most of them related to officials from the police, police structures or political officials from Republika Srpska (RS).
Based on the indictments of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, since the beginning of operation of the Special Department for War Crimes, final and binding judgments and prison sentences were handed down for a total of 3218 years in prison and the percentage of final and binding convictions is about 70%, which speaks volumes about the quality of this Department.
It is important to point out that since the beginning of the SDWC’s operation, based on the indictments of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH for genocide, aiding genocide, war crimes and grave violations of international humanitarian law related to the events in and around Srebrenica in July 1995, a total of 26 people were sentenced to about 400 years in prison, trials against about 10 indictees are in progress, as well as a number of investigations into the Srebrenica genocide.
In addition to co-operation activities in the region, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted dozens of activities with partner institutions around the world, with the aim of finding and locating war crimes suspects hiding from justice in Europe and the world.
A large number of extraditions of suspects and accused were carried out from all parts of Europe and the world, and the largest number of them from the USA, from which a larger number of suspects were extradited to the judiciary and the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.
Significant regional co-operation has been achieved in the fight against impunity for war crimes, which has been supported by both the IRMCT Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague and Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, who has repeatedly emphasized the importance of co-operation with the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and with whom regular meetings were held, as well as meetings with representatives of associations of victims of war crimes from all ethnic groups and all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with which the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH has good and open cooperation.
In this regard, he pointed out the following in a report submitted in mid-2020: “The Office of the Prosecutor has always fully supported the work of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its current Chief Prosecutor. It is our confirmed opinion that she and her team do their job professionally and ethically, and we believe that they will continue to prosecute all those responsible for war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity or official position.” (A quote from Mr Brammertz’s address to the UN Security Council in June 2020.)
Also, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH has good cooperation with the Institute for Missing Persons (INO) of BiH, as well as international institutions and organisations, including the IRMCT, OSCE, UNDP ICMP, ICRC, EU IPA projects and others that assist the work of this Department.
Since 2014, those who headed the Special Department for War Crimes were the current Chief Prosecutor Gordana Tadić and then, by a decision of the Chief Prosecutor, Prosecutor Izet Odobašić, after him Deputy Chief Prosecutor Milanko Kajganić and from July this year, together with him, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Diana Kajmaković.
Despite all inappropriate pressures, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH will continue to work professionally and equally towards all, in accordance with the Action Plan and obligations arising from the Revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy.
Dear Media Representatives, when transmitting news please bear in mind that persons referred to in the news and information of the BiH Prosecutor's Office, have the status of a suspect or an accused person. Let us remind you of the principle of presumption of innocence, which defines that no person shall be considered guilty until his/her guilt has been established by a final verdict.