Bosnian Croat Sentenced for Dretelj Camp Abuse

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, April 25, 2014
Posted in category Balkans, Bosnia Hertegovina
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The Appellate Chamber of the Bosnian State Court sentenced a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, Drazen Mikulic, to a year-and-a-half in prison for crimes against a Bosniak civilian held in the Dretelj camp, near Capljina, in 1993.

The former member of military police of the HVO was convicted of participating in the abuse of Enver Grebovic, a prisoner in the Dretelj camp, at the end of July in 1993.

According to the verdict, Mikulic took Grebovic from the hangar in Dretelj and, along with other members of the HVO military police, hit him with rifle butts and a gun and with their hands. Mikulic then used a piece of glass to cut Grebovic chest and drank his blood.

“The testimony of Grebovic was credible. He said he was taken out of the hangar by the accused Mikulic, and that he did not know his name at the time, but that he learned it from other prisoners,” the Appellate Chamber presiding judge Dragomir Vukoje said.

“Other witnesses confirmed the testimony of the victim and therefore the Chamber has no doubt about Mikulic’s identity, considering that the prisoners had the opportunity to learn his full name,” he added.

Mikulic was acquitted of ordering three prisoners to line up along the fence and then ordering the Dretelj staff to beat them between July and August in 1993.

The judge said that Mikulic was acquitted of this charge because the State Prosecution had failed to establish the identity of the prisoners who were abused, and therefore it was not possible “to provide reliable testimonies”.

Mikulic was sentenced to year-and-a-half in prison according to the penal code of the former Yugoslavia. His sentence will include time already spent in custody from September 2012 till July 2013.

In determining the sentence, the judge said the Chamber found special mitigating circumstances and no aggravating factors.

“The Chamber took as a mitigating circumstance Mikulic’s earlier life, the fact that had no previous convictions, that he has three underage children, and that he was very young at the time when he committed those acts,” Vukoje said.

Mikulic was originally found guilty in September 2012 and sentenced to six years in prison. This verdict was later quashed and he was sent for retrial.

Mikulic’s trial started in November 2011. There is no possibility of appeal against the verdict.

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