Former Bosnian miltary Jurisic challenges Bosnia war crimes conviction

Ilija Jurisic, the former Bosnian miltary officer jailed for 12 years for committing war crimes in the country’s 1992-95 war, is continuing his appeal against conviction.

Jurisic was jailed in September 2009 by the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade for ordering an attack on a convoy of soliders from the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, on May 15, 1992.

But six former police officers and commanders were called by the defence at the Belgrade Court of Appeals on Thursday to support Jurisic’s claim that he was only following orders when he told them to attack the column.

One of the group gave evidence in the courtroom while the other five testified by video conference from a court in Sarajevo.

The evidence from the witnesses, who were in charge of part of the area through which the JNA Brigade passed in 1992, was not heard during the original trial.

Jurisic has been in prison since his arrest at Belgrade airport in 2007.

He was sentenced in 2009 for having issued “a first-hand” order, in his capacity as the duty chief of the Operational Headquarters of the Safety Services Centre, for the attack on the JNA Brigade as it withdrew from the Husinjska Buna military barracks in Tuzla.

But Jurisic contests the conviction, saying he was not directly responsible for the assault.

The Bosnian State Ministry for Human Rights, in an official announcement, called the original verdict illegal, arguing that Jurisic’s basic human rights were violated.

Selim Beslagic, the mayor of Tuzla at the time of the attack, is expected to give evidence during the appeal hearing.

After the hearing, which is set to last until Friday, the court may uphold the original verdict, reverse it, or order a new trial.

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