By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
BELGRADE, Serbia – On Monday a Serbian court convicted Bosnian security officer Ilija Jurisic of ordering an attack that killed approximately 50 soldiers in 1992. Jurisic was sentenced to 12 years in prison for war crimes.
The War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court for War Crimes concluded that Jurisic, a citizen of both of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had ordered the attack on a column of Serbian soldiers as they withdrew from the Bosnian town of Tuzla in May, 1992. This decision, which found improper battlefield conduct, killed 50 Yugoslavian soldiers while injuring another 44.
Bosnian officials have claimed that it was the Yugoslavian soldiers that first fired in this event. Jurisic’s lawyer has labeled the court’s verdict ‘scandalous’.
Jurisic’s trial has strained already fragile relations between Bosnia’s Muslim and Serbian populations. The Bosnian war, which continued the breakup of the old Yugoslavia, began in 1992 after Croats and Muslims in Bosnia voted to split off from the Serbian-led Yugoslavia. Fighting came to an end in 1995 through the Dayton Accords. Since he capture by Serbian authorities, Bosnia has demanded Jurisic’s release from a trial that it believes is politically motivated.
Jurisic maintained throughout the trial that he was innocent of the charges. Prior to the start of the trial in February of 2008, Jurisic was detained for two and a half years. He had been arrested by Serbian authorities while on a business trip in Belgrade.
Following the Serbian court’s verdict there were protests on Tuesday involving thousands of ethnic Bosnians in Tuzla.
For more information, please see:
B92 – Protests in Tuzla over Jurisic verdict – 29 September 2009
BALKANINSIGHT – Jurisic Sentenced to 12 Years – 29 September 2009
BLIC Online – Jurisic sentenced to 12 years in prison – 29 September 2009
SETIMES – Serbia sentences Bosnian for war crimes – 29 September 2009
AP – Bosnian jailed in Serbia for war crimes – 28 September 2009
REUTERS – Serbia jails Bosnian Croat for 1992 war crimes – 28 September 2009