The Bosnian state court in Sarajevo found Miroslav Markovic guilty of crimes against humanity on Monday for participating in the murders of at least 67 Bosniak civilians on July 14, 1992.
The victims were seized from a column of fleeing Bosniaks who were walking from Teocak to the Sapna area. Most of them had no weapons and did not resist much, the court established.
“The fact that several people carried weapons and participated in the conflict does not reduce the civilian character of the column,” said presiding judge Saban Maksumic.
He said that the judges did not dispute the fact that a Serb guard was killed first, and that four members of the Bosnian Serb Army died as well as the Bosniaks, but insisted that this did not call into question the court’s conclusion about the incident.
Maksumic added that the fleeing Bosniaks were aiming to reach “free territory” and did not plan to stage an attack.
The court found that the prisoners were taken from the column to the village of Lokanj and shot in small groups near a pit they had previously dug.
The judges established that Markovic, a member of the Lokanj Company of the Bosnian Serb Army, participated in the murders based on his statement during the investigation, which was supported by witness statements.
Maksumic recalled that during the investigation, Markovic said that he was present at the scene of the shooting, but he did shoot at the victims, only over their heads.
The court established that Markovic was aware of a widespread and systematic attack by Bosnian Serb forces in the wider Zvornik area in 1992.
“Given that a wide and systematic attack lasted went on a long period of time and that a large number of non-Serbs were persecuted, Markovic must have known this,” said Maksumic.
He noted that during the trial, the defence argued that Markovic left the scene of the shooting and went to the funeral of a relative, but said the judges did not accept that alibi because several witnesses saw Markovic.
He cited the statements of witnesses who stated that Markovic, also known as Miso Marinac, was among the soldiers who escorted the prisoners and killed them.
While determining the sentence, the court took into account as mitigating circumstances that the defendant was 20 years old at the time of the crime, that he had no prior convictions and that he has a family, and as aggravating circumstance his role in killing a large number of people.
Markovic, who lives in Austria, did not appear in court for the reading of the verdict. The court ordered him to be remanded in custody.
This was a first-instance verdict and can be appealed.
Last year, in a separate case, four other former Bosnian Serb soldiers, Ljiljan Mitrovic, Mile Vujevic, Vukasin Draskovic and Gojko Stevanovic were sentenced to a total of 53 years in prison for the killings in Lokanj. Three others were acquitted.
Source : Balkan Insight