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The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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IN 2023, THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE OF BIH FILED SOME OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INDICTMENTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ORGANISED CRIME, CORRUPTION AND IMPUNITY FOR WAR CRIMES

16.02.2024. 15:24
According to the collected data, 125 indictments against 299 persons were filed in 2023, by which the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH reached a total of 7,205 accused persons of whom 1,130 persons were accused of war crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law.  
  • IN 2023, THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE OF BIH FILED SOME OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INDICTMENTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ORGANISED CRIME, CORRUPTION AND IMPUNITY FOR WAR CRIMES

In the last year, indictments were filed in some of the most complex cases of war crimes, in a large number of cases in the field of organised crime and corruption, as well as in terrorism cases. Seven indictments were filed in cases with evidence obtained from SKY and ANOM applications against more than 60 accused persons among whom were employees of police agencies and law enforcement institutions, and the first final and binding judgments in these cases were recorded.

 

Final and binding judgments were handed down in important corruption cases, a large amount of unlawful property gain was confiscated and fines amounting to more than BAM 5.3 million were imposed.

 

Below is a brief overview of the most significant activities and results.

 

 

WORK OF THE SPECIAL DEPARTMENT FOR WAR CRIMES

 

In 2023, priorities were defined in the Special Department for War Crimes regarding a total of 26 cases, which were previously integrated from about 40 cases that relate to and include the same individuals and events.

The binding instructions of the Chief Prosecutor were given to prosecutors in charge to allow them to make prosecutorial decisions and the necessary human and technological resources were provided for the implementation of activities necessary for making prosecutorial decisions in these cases, including the formation of prosecutorial teams, if necessary.

 

The outcome of these activities is that last year the Special Department for War Crimes /SDWC/ filed indictments in 17 cases against a total of 70 persons and among these were also the cases in which the families of the injured parties and victims waited for decades for prosecutorial decisions to be made (Jošanica, Briševo cases, Bugojno, Zvornik, genocide cases, etc.) and these few cases alone cover the executions of over 1,000 victims, which shows that these were extremely complex cases.

 

Acting in line with the Chief Prosecutor’s binding instructions, the prosecutors and professional staff in the SDWC completely resolved about 400 cases, namely 90 KTN RZ cases (cases with unidentified perpetrators) and 307 KTA RZ cases (cases in which an unlawful act is indicated and in which neither a criminal offence nor the perpetrator is clearly defined).

 

These activities significantly reduced the number of cases in accordance with the provisions and the priorities of the Revised National War Crime Strategy.

 

In addition, the Special Department for War Crimes continued with activities that should result in the prosecution of persons suspected or accused of war crimes, who are located in neighbouring countries, and together with partner institutions and agencies, as well as with the IRMCT OTP, works on activities in the fight against impunity for war crimes and bringing suspects and accused persons to justice in the countries of the region.

 

Several meetings and conferences involving prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina were held, as well as regional and international conferences, which discussed the systemic aspects of processing war crimes and the achievement of the strategic goals of the Revised National War Crime Strategy and related annexes. An important regional conference was held in Sarajevo in September 2023, in which all representatives of the prosecutor’s offices of the region took part as well as their colleagues from the IRMCT. The meetings also discussed cases in which inaccessible persons were recorded, who are located in the countries of the region.

 

 

WORK OF THE SPECIAL DEPARTMENT FOR ORGANISED CRIME, ECONOMIC CRIME AND CORRUPTION

 

In the course of 2023, some of the most significant indictments in the fight against organised crime in the past decade were filed and prosecutorial decisions were made or court judgements handed down in a considerable number of corruption cases.

 

It should be noted that the largest judgment for corruption criminal offences was handed down in 2023, by which the former employees of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs of BiH were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison (12.5 and 8.5 years in prison respectively and confiscation of BAM 60,000 of unlawful property gain). In addition, a final judgment was handed down in the ‘Respirators’ case, as well as a first-instance judgment in the case against the former Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

 

In cases of high- and medium-level corruption, 11 indictments were filed against 15 persons.

 

The persons accused of high corruption include the former Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, the former Director of the Veterinary Office of BiH and a senior inspector of the Republika Srpska Ministry of the Interior, who was accused of committing the criminal offences of corruption and misuse of police resources within a case with evidence obtained from the SKY and Anom applications.

 

Several indictments were filed against middle-level employees for corruption, and among the accused are the officials of BHANSA, IDDEA BiH, Border Police of BiH, ITA BiH, Veterinary Office of BiH.

 

In the cases with evidence obtained from the Sky and Anom applications, out of a total of 8 indictments, 7 of them were filed in 2023. Among around 60 accused, there are also 5 employees from police agencies or law enforcement institutions, namely from the Border Police, the Republika Srpska Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Interior of the Herzegovina Neretva Canton and the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Thanks to the efforts of the prosecutor’s office and partner agencies, three suspects in cases with evidence obtained from SKY and Anom applications were extradited from Germany, Croatia and Serbia, and work is being done to locate and extradite more suspects for whom international arrest warrants have been issued.

 

In 2023, the first final judgments in these cases were recorded, where a total of 13 defendants in two cases pleaded guilty in the presence of their defence attorneys, and were subsequently sentenced to a total of 23 years in prison before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the sentences ranged from 1 to 5 years in prison, depending on the role and responsibility of the accused), fines, as well as confiscation of unlawful property gain.

 

It should be pointed out that in the indictments in the cases involving Sky and Anom applications, in addition to the elements of international crime, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and money laundering, there were often elements of corruption and corruption criminal offences, especially where the criminal offences of receiving a gift, abuse of office or authority by authorised official persons are concerned, which are covered by the indictments.

 

The use of evidence obtained from the encrypted SKY and ANOM applications helps the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH to shed light on the most serious forms of crime in BiH. In this way, important leads were obtained, which were used for further prosecution of the suspects.

 

When working on these cases, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH has good cooperation with partner institutions and law enforcement agencies from the countries of the region, as well as from abroad, including cooperation with the international agency EUROPOL, which on two occasions supported the institutions of BiH and emphasised the importance of cooperation in the fight against organised crime in BiH and the region referring to the case codenamed ‘Tokyo’ in which one of the most wanted fugitives from the EU arrest warrant was located, identified and detained.

 

According to the records in the cases formed based on the indictments of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, in which evidence was obtained from the SKY and ANOM applications, dozens of witnesses gave their statements and testified in courtrooms in several cases at the main trial stage in 2023 and among those witnesses were police officers from partner agencies, who spoke about the processes of deciphering messages and investigations into organised criminal groups.

 

In 2023, after a long investigation that lasted several years, an indictment was filed in one of the most complex cases of international financial crime against several natural and legal entities linked to a pharmaceutical company, and after the security of the prosecutor in charge was compromised, activities were undertaken in this case to provide security to the prosecutor in charge and to identify the persons responsible for compromising their security.

 

In terrorism cases in 2023, two suspects from the Republic of Türkyie, who are suspected of staying in foreign battlefields in Syria and Iraq for a long time, some of them more than a decade, were extradited and one suspect, who is under investigation for planning a terrorist attack in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was deprived of liberty in the area of Zenica.

 

In the cases of the Special Department for Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption, it is important to point out that in the past year, on the basis of the indictments of this Department, fines in the amount of about BAM 5.3 million were imposed and unlawful property gain amounting to about BAM 4.2 million confiscated.

 

The Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, the Border Police of BiH and other partner institutions and law enforcement agencies prosecuted a large number of perpetrators of criminal offences of migrant smuggling, as well as of the organisation of a group of people for the purpose of committing criminal offences of migrant smuggling. Intensive activities were undertaken in the fight against human trafficking in order to punish the perpetrators and provide assistance and protection to the victims.

 

Finally, it is important to emphasize that in 2023, an agreement on cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office was signed in Luxembourg by Chief Prosecutor Milanko Kajganić and Chief Prosecutor Laura Corduta Covesi. For the purpose of strengthening judicial cooperation in the countries of the Western Balkans, a group of 20 Eurojust prosecutors (Agency for Cooperation in the Field of Criminal Justice), including prosecutors from the region, as well as Eurojust officials from EU countries, visited the Prosecutor’s Office BiH. As the host, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH took part in a series of meetings with representatives of the prosecutor’s offices of the region, which discussed the fight against organised, cross-border and international crime.

 

Furthermore, in accordance with the decision and the binding instruction of the Chief Prosecutor, the Prosecutor’s Office BiH continued to publish redacted factual descriptions of indictments on its website, in line with the guidelines of the HJPC of BiH, in order to implement activities from the Communication Strategy and to strengthen the transparency of the work of this institution.

 

More information regarding the work and activities of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH will be presented in an annual report on its operation, which, in accordance with the law, will be soon sent to the relevant institutions and into the foreseen parliamentary procedure.

 

YEAR 2023 IN NUMBERS

 

Total number of indictments filed: in 125 cases, against 199 persons

 

A total of 130 first-instance judgments against 284 persons

 

A total of 128 final and binding judgments against 269 persons

 

A total of 81 guilty plea agreements were proposed for 159 persons (the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina accepted 74 guilty plea agreements for 149 persons, for one person the guilty plea agreement was rejected and for 9 persons no decision was made until the end of 2023).

 

A total of 401 years and 4 months of imprisonment were imposed by final and binding verdicts.

 

- Special Department for War Crimes - 220 years in prison.

- Special Department for Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption - 181 years in prison and fines amounting to about BAM 5.33 million.

 

The confiscation of unlawful property gain amounting to about BAM 13.1 million KM was proposed, and the disposal of property in the amount of 31.8 million KM was temporarily blocked.

 

The property gain amounting to about BAM 120,000 was confiscated by first-instance judgments and the property gain amounting to about BAM 4.2 million was confiscated by final and binding judgments.

 

The percentage of collective quota achieved is 120.95 %

The percentage of collective quota achieved in Department I - SDWC is 101.52%

The percentage of the collective quota achieved in Department II – Special Department for Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption is 146.20%

 

Quality of prosecutorial decisions-indictments – 96.96%

Quality of prosecutorial decisions - non-implementation and suspension of investigations – 99.34%

 

 


*Note on the principle of presumption of innocence

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.

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